This is my first attempt at a Hetalia story, and hoepfully it turned out well. It's set after the end of World War I, at the Paris Peace Conference where the Allies decided what should be done with Germany. I haven't really seen too much dealing with this period.

It's a little more serious than usual for Hetalia stuff, but I tried to keep everyone pretty much in character.

Okay, so... Enjoy!

Placing Blame

The ropes that bound his arms to his sides had been tied too tightly. He could feel the tips of his fingers beginning to tingle from the lack of blood flow, but he wasn't going to say anything and give the other countries the satisfaction of his complaining. Germany stood in stoic silence, staring at the floor as he listened to the others discuss his fate.

"We should make him pay back every cent he cost us!" exclaimed France emphatically. The loud bang that followed suggested the man had slammed his fist against a table or other hard surface to emphasize his point. A faint whine of pain that came in the silence following indicated that he'd overdone it.

One corner of Germany's mouth twitched in the beginnings of a sneer aimed at the Frenchman. It was easy for a person to act bold when his enemy was bound and unable to fight back. If it hadn't been for England supporting him, the long-haired twit would have lost for sure. Even then, he still might've been able to pull out a victory if America hadn't finally decided to get involved.

"Hey, you don't need to be so mean about it," said America, taking up the position as the voice of reason for a change. That was oddly terrifying. "It's not fair to make him pay back everything. That's a lot of money, and he still needs to be able to take care of himself."

"Who cares about fair?!" shrieked France indignantly. "It's all his fault we even had this war!"

Germany's expression darkened at that.

No, it wasn't.

Serbia had been the one to first pull the trigger, and Austria had been the one to deliberately make it impossible to reach a peaceful solution with his unreasonable demands. He'd been drug into the war due to the terms of his alliance with Austria and Hungary just as most of the other countries had been pulled in by their respective alliances. Either of them seemed far more worthy of blame.

So why was he the only one here, being blamed for everything? What about the others?

"Stop acting like an idiot, you git," grumbled England in his typically irritated tone. "As much as I hate to admit it… America is right—at least partially. You are being somewhat unreasonable."

"Eh? England, you're actually agreeing with me on something?" asked the man as he adjusted his glasses, sounding rather astonished.

"I said 'partially.' That doesn't mean I support your Sixteen Points or—"

"Fourteen Points," corrected America with a helpful smile.

"Whatever," snapped the shorter man. "That's not what's important at the moment."

Lifting his gaze from the floor, Germany looked carefully around the conference hall, taking note of all of the countries present. He was utterly alone in the midst of his enemies, one of whom seemed inclined to attempt to tear him apart.

What had happened to Austria-Hungary and Russia, and what about the old man, Ottoman Empire? His illness had been getting quite bad lately.

"I think it's important," said the younger country.

"Nobody cares what you think!"

Pursing his lips almost in a pout, America said, "Germany thinks it's important too. My Fourteen Points are what finally brought him around to the armistice."

"Nobody cares what he thinks either!" shouted France, shooting a quick glare at the man in question. "The defeated don't get to call the shots on the conditions of their surrender!"

"Besides, how are we supposed to be expected to accept some of these ridiculous ideas you've outlined," said England, waving a stack of papers in front of America's boyish face. "I refuse to allow full freedom on the high seas, and this blather about sovereignty for colonial claims is utterly ludicrous. Are you trying to make them all into new versions of you? I won't have it, you ungrateful brat!"

"Yes, sovereignty for the colonies is practically inciting revolution, and you're proposing hardly anything to prevent that potato-loving bastard from attacking me again. You actually want to let him still have a military!" said France in an accusatory tone, as though he suspected that America might secretly be an ally of Germany.

"It's only meant for domestic defense. The numbers wouldn't be enough to mount a serious attack," he defended, raising his hands in a placating gesture to show France that he meant no ill will towards him. "Wow. I didn't realize that this was going to be such a big issue that it would actually get you and England to agree on something."

Face blanching at that remark, England's whole attitude suddenly and visibly shifted. He quickly turned to France. "You're being too extreme again, or maybe you're just so against it because you don't think that the full force of your mighty military can stand up to even a bare bones German force."

"That's not it!"

A devious smirk played over the Brit's lips. "Oh? Then what's the problem of allowing him some few units?"

"You're not right next to him! You've got me and that stupid channel separating you! Share a border with the Kraut and then tell me how much of a military you want him to have."

The smirk faded, and England's thick eyebrows furrowed as he shouted, "I was the one supporting you through most of that battle! How many of my men were lost and resources were spent defending your ass because you couldn't?"

"You're the one who chose to play protector to Belgium! Who asked you to be the world police, Angleterre?" countered France furiously, pointing an accusing finger at the other man, who suddenly looked somewhat uncomfortable. "How many of either of our people would've had to be lost if you hadn't felt like trying to show off to everyone that you're still such a great global power?"

"They'll probably be at this for a while," said America, surprising Germany, who hadn't noticed that the other man had moved to stand next to him. He watched the arguing countries with a casual familiarity. "They're more used to being enemies than allies. I think that the only reason France agreed to help me gain independence was because it meant he got the chance to beat England and get back at him for taking away…um…someone in an earlier war…I can't remember who though…"

("It was me, Canada…" He sighed resignedly as no one seemed to notice him. Again.)

Letting out a sigh, he looked at the taller man with an unexpectedly friendly smile. "Are you okay? Are the ropes too tight? They look like they're digging into your arms a bit."

Hesitating for a moment, Germany slowly nodded his head. "A bit," he admitted.

"Well, let's see if I can't loosen them up just a little bit," said America, moving around behind the other country and grabbing the ropes. "Since it seems like they're getting wound up for a really good argument, might as well try to make yourself a little more comfortable. I can't just let you go, but I can, at least, try to keep your hands from falling off while you wait."

Ever so slightly the ropes loosened, and the tingling in his fingers almost immediately lessened. "Danke schon…"

The man frowned in confusion, scratching the back of his head as he came back around to Germany's side. "Eh? What?"


He smiled again, blue eyes almost seeming to sparkle. "It's no problem, but don't go thanking me just yet." The smile faded as he looked back at England and France, who were still arguing, though the subject they were disagreeing on seemed to have shifted. "I knew France wasn't going to be agreeable, but I was hoping I could get a little more from England. It looks like he's got his own plans too though."

"They'll destroy me."

"Don't say that. You give up too easy."

Germany frowned at the man. What was he talking about? He'd been the last one to surrender. Did America not realize how long he and the others had been fighting before he'd finally joined the war? Maybe not. The man was supposed to be rather dense.

"Besides, it's not right trying to put all of the blame on you."

Starting in astonishment, Germany almost couldn't believe what he'd just heard. This man was supposed to be his enemy, wasn't he? Yet, he seemed willing to forgive his participation in the war and even to be trying to help him somewhat. "Why?"

Glancing back at the bound man, America gave a vaguely confused frown. "Huh?"

"Why are you acting this way towards me?"

"Oh." The smile was back then. It seemed a much more natural expression for him than the frown. "Well, even though you're my enemy now, maybe if I'm nice to you, you'll become my ally in the future. If we're all just mean and try to punish you the worst way we can come up with, you'll just stay our enemy. Also, I guess it's partially just to disagree with those two."

He couldn't have expected the man's intentions to be completely pure. There were politics involved, after all, but it was an odd sort of comfort to know that there was someone at least making some appearance of trying to aid him.

"What do you think you're doing over there? Get away from him!" shouted France, finally noticing where America was and whom he was speaking with.

"I got bored of watching you two argue. Can we make some decisions already? I'm getting hungry, and I wanna go home," he almost whined, looking suddenly much younger than he had just a moment ago. It reminded Germany that he was still only a teenager even if he was taller than his former guardian. Suddenly he wasn't so certain if having America trying to help him was such a good thing.

"You're always hungry," grumbled England, running one hand through his messy hair with an annoyed sigh. "Fine. Let's get things settled. We're obviously not going to agree on everything the others want, so we'll all have to make compromises."

Brows furrowing in an expression of concern, Germany was split as to whether this sounded better or worse for him.

"Okay," said America as he stepped back towards the other two countries. "Do away with Article 231. Stop trying to blame Germany for everything."

"That's not a compromise!" shouted England in exasperation. "You can't make demands unless you give us something we want in exchange."

"But you two are only making demands too. What have either of you been willing to give up?" he asked in an innocent voice that did not go along with the hard look in his bright, blue eyes.

"Why should we be expected to make concessions to you?" asked France, wearing an expression almost like disdain. "You have the smallest stake of anyone in this, so your ideas should get the least amount of consideration."

"I'm the hero! That's why you should listen to me," he said, puffing out his chest and pointing at himself with his thumb.

The older countries stared at him for a moment, wearing slightly bemused but mostly irritated expressions. Idiot.

Finally, England gave a resigned huff, saying, "We're not getting anywhere like this. Very well. I also want a share of the reparations to compensate for the large number of widows, orphans, and men rendered unable to work as a result of this war, but the amounts that France is demanding are far too extreme. I will not approve self-determination by colonial claims, but in fairness, I will be more open to some of your other demands if you will drop this point."

Uncharacteristically, America hesitated in giving his answer. Glancing back at Germany for a moment, he frowned thoughtfully and turned back around. After another moment, he said, "France has to agree to be more open as well."

There was another long silence between the countries. "Oh, all right," conceded the Frenchman grudgingly, "but don't think I'm just going to let the bastard get off freely either."

"Okay," said America, feeling an unusual heavy sensation settle in his stomach. Even with their agreement to be more open to his terms, he did not feel that this was going to end well. "First, I want to talk about Germany being allowed to keep a small standing military."

Walking out of the conference room, America felt frustrated, tried, and ultimately that he had failed in achieving his country's goals for both the international community as a whole and for Germany specifically. The opposition to his Fourteen Points had, in the end, just been too great to overcome. All of the bad blood and old rivalries that wouldn't be put aside had knocked the teeth out of his proposals, and even those that he had finally gotten approved were little more than a shadow of what he had been aiming for.

Britain and (especially) France had all but attempted to dismantle Germany. The amount of money they expected him to pay back was massive. It would take seventy years or more before he was able to fully make amends.

Looking down at the document he had to carry back to his boss and his people, he felt that heaviness in his stomach settle in again. He would have to try to sell this to his people, but they would not like it. He did not like it.

This was not a solution. This was a recipe for more bitterness and more fighting.

"I'm done with it. Let those guys handle the next mess all on their own," he muttered, walking alone down the hall. He was going back home, and he didn't plan on leaving again any time soon.

"For, I tell you, my fellow citizens, I can predict with absolute certainty that within another generation there will be another world war if the nations of the world do not concert the method by which to prevent it."

-President Woodrow Wilson

And off goes America into his Isolationism period. Although the President did sign the Treaty of Versailles, the country never did actually ratify it, and the people largely were fed up with dealing with the Europeans.

One note on the mention of the Ottoman Empire in the story. The sentence I had about him being ill was a reference to the empire's historical nickname as the "Sick Man of Europe." The Ottoman Empire had been in a long decline prior to the events of World War I, but the war was pretty much that final thing that brought it to collapse.

So how was it? Let me know.