Sitting at his desk, trying to get paperwork done, and the phone rings. For a few moments, he just stares at it-dread filling his body at answering the phone but knowing he had to answer it no matter what. He picks it up and-
On the beach with 'Japan' and 'Italy'. 'Italy' is playing happily in the waves. 'Japan' comes up from behind him, as he draws world relations in the sand.
Leading troops of men against a slightly smaller army.
"Capture France!" Is heard, and it's coming from him, but who's 'France'...?
Being captured by 'England' and 'America', refusing to give up the fight even though he knows in the next room 'Italy' is telling them everything from his life story to the very moment of being captured by the enemy.
Trying to force a strange old man out of his room, a 'Roman Empire' who has come to check on his 'favorite grandson', even though 'Italy' is asleep and there's no hope of waking him up. He gives him advice about getting women and talks about the time he did xxx and xxx with xxx, and even xxx!
He was mortified that the man spoke so easily, but before he could say anything else the man turns to him, suddenly serious.
"You're such a good friend to my grandson, my little Feliciano," He says, placing a hand on his shoulder, and suddenly he's Ludwig again, sitting with this strange man on his bed in the familiar-yet-unfamiliar room. "I always knew he'd be in the right hands if he was with you."
"What?" He shakes his head, this 'Roman Empire', and continues as if Ludwig hasn't even spoken.
"I'll let you in on a little secret. Everyone is busy, trying to recover from the whole thing, trying to rebuild their country, their world. Things will be different, and some of your number will have to disappear, and others will suddenly appear, but it's all for the better. Trust that, and the world will turn out fine."
"What are you talking about?" Ludwig asks, but the man is gone before the first word leaves his mouth.
When Ludwig woke later, it was to discover he was covered with...something, and Feliciano crying (he had been able to hear the boy cry enough to know who it was when there were tears being shed anywhere). Groaning slightly, he sat up slowly. The empty part in his side protested, making him wince slightly, but he otherwise ignored it in favor of opening his eyes.
Feliciano sat next to him, bawling loudly about 'Grandpa Rome' and being generally inconsolable. Gilbert was next to Feliciano, biting his lip worriedly and ignoring Roderich's hand on his arm (rather pointedly, Ludwig might add-almost as if he was purposely avoiding the brunette's gaze). Lovino was on Feliciano's other side, trying (and failing) to calm his younger brother down.
"I-Italia..." Ludwig coughed harshly, and everyone instantly turned to him. "What happened?"
"You've been out of it for at least a day and a half." Gilbert said, but it was all he got out because of Feliciano's sudden turnabout.
"Doitsu!" He cried out, tears still falling from his eyes even as a relieved, if not happy, expression took over the look of distraught which had been on his face a few seconds prior. Before Ludwig could respond, Feliciano threw his arms around his neck, nearly knocking them over again.
"F-Feliciano..." Ludwig stammered, his face going bright red. A thought quickly flitted through his mind-I should find a book on...whatever this is...yes, there has to be a book about this somewhere...-and he just barely managed to throw out an arm to catch them before they fell. Feliciano didn't seem to notice, merely babbled on and on about something-Ludwig stopped listening when Gilbert waved someone over, still pointedly ignoring Roderich's gaze.
Yao came into view, Kiku following him. Ludwig looked curiously at them both before turning to Gilbert.
"Bruder...?" He questioned softly. Gilbert smiled impishly at him, but it didn't seem to reach his crimson eyes.
"Yao came up with this kick-ass theory about us, West." Gilbert said. His voice trembled slightly, despite the overly-jaunty tone of 'what-do-you-mean-what's-wrong-nothing's-wrong-it's-all-in-your-head-pleasant-day-isn't-it?', and Roderich's hold on Gilbert's arm tightened. With some difficulty, Gilbert managed to pull it away without making it look like he was yanking it out of the brunette's hand. "Now, he says it won't work on us-too many damn things, something about us knowing more or being older or some shit like that. But, since you're younger..."
"It should work on you, aru." Yao smiled gently at Ludwig and moved to lay him down again. "You may feel some pain, aru. Don't fret too much about it, it won't last. And if it gets too uncomfortable, I'll stop, ok, aru?" Ludwig nodded slowly, looking at Kiku. The boy smiled slightly at him.
"Take care, Ludwig-san." He said softly. "I pray that all goes well, for if it does then I shall be next." Ludwig nodded once at him before turning to Feliciano, who smiled brightly.
"Me too, me too!" He chirped happily. "But I'll be sad if Ludwig gets hurt, so don't let it hurt too badly, Doitsu!" Ludwig raised an eyebrow but nodded once. He glanced at Gilbert, who hastily put on what was quickly becoming his trademark smirk, but Ludwig could still see the worry in his eyes.
"I'm ready." He said strongly, keeping his eyes locked on Gilbert's even after Yao acknowledged him. Hoping that the determination he was feeling got through to his brother, Ludwig closed his eyes when Yao told him to.
For a moment, there was nothing, just some muffled noises as things were placed, last minute, into place. A heavy piece of material was placed on him-Ludwig recognized it as a flag from the wall (probably the red, black, and yellow one). Soft hands touched his face briefly, tracing his forehead and cheeks with cold fingers. They left a trail on their wake, and Ludwig sighed inaudibly.
Another pair of hands, these more warm and feeling rougher than the first, were placed at his temples. He felt warm breath on his face as something touched his forehead again.
"Keep silent, aru," Yao whispered. Before Ludwig could say anything, or make any sort of appropriate gesture, Yao was speaking again, quickly and fluently in a strange language that made his nerves feel weird.
Yao's voice began to get louder, attracting the attention of everyone in the room. Ludwig felt red creep up his face as everyone's daily fights and conversations were silenced by what they were doing. Yao, however, had no such qualms about it. His voice rose almost steadily, and Ludwig could practically feel the power and concentration that rolled off of the older boy in waves.
Then, quite suddenly, pain shot through his entire body. It took a good amount of willpower to keep silent as Yao told him to. Pain raked through him harshly, making his fingers twitch and his wholebody shake. Ludwig could hear Gilbert, yelling for Yao to stop; Feliciano, crying hysterically; Kiku's calm voice trying to soothe everyone; Yao's strong voice still chanting, his hands tracing the same patterns on Ludwig's face.
Just as suddenly, the pain stopped. An image came, unbidden, and as clear as if he had been placed in this specific spot for a reason, to his mind: a bloody battlefield, flames nearby still burning strong, bodies littered around him. He, himself, covered in blood and mud and just...filth, looking around with blue eyes, terrified. A tall man, just as bloodied, just as filthy, approached slowly. He had blue eyes filled with haunting and sorrow, filled with regret and a sense of feeling old; blonde hair that had once been pulled back, but was now hanging freely around his face, matted with tangles and unclean.
"My apologies," he said, and his voice echoed throughout Ludwig's mind as his gaze directed upwards. "Allow me to do you this one favor, Holy Roman Empire, and place this child under the care of someone who would watch him better than any of us could. Please understand- - -while he should go to Roderich, I feel it best if we don't stick this one together with Little Feliciano just yet..." Before Ludwig could comprehend the cryptic statement, the blonde looked at him again. "Hello, mon ami." Ludwig felt himself shy away instinctively, despite the armor he wore and the sword by his side. The man laughed and held hs hand out. "I won't hurt you, promise. I'm just going to help you."
"Help me where?" He asked suspiciously. Something told him to be wary of this man- - -boy, actually. He looked no older than seventeen, eighteen at the most. The other laughed, though there was no mirth in it and he still had that haunted, sorrowful, regretful gaze in his eyes.
"To someone better equipped to raise you than myself." He said simply, hand still outstretched. Ludwig backed away more, glaring even more distrustfully.
"Bring him here yourself," He started, but he was cut off by a look of horror on the other's face, the man-child-boy paling underneath the mud-filth-blood on his face as he shouted out an order in some strange language; as he did, something heavy collided with his skull and Ludwig dropped like a stone, blackness overcoming him.
He sat suddenly, looking around the room and his hand twitching for his sword.
"Ah, I see you're up." Ludwig lurched to the side, eyes meeting the crimson ones of the person next to him. The person smirked and stood, poking his head slightly. "You took quite a hit- - - Francis was worried that his second in command hit you too hard and killed you as well." Quite unexpectedly, the other grabbed Ludwig's face and began tilting his head in every angle possible. "So, you're him, huh? Kinda look like him; I take that back, you look a lot like him. What's your name, kid?"
"I- - -" Ludwig though hard and shrugged half-heatedly. The crimson eyed boy hit his shoulder, making him yelp.
"Rule number one," He said firmly, crimson eyes blazing. "is that you answer every question given to you verbally- - -none of this half-assed shit you just pulled. Got it?" Ludwig could only nod, eyes wide.
"Yes!" He squeaked.
"Rule number two- - -address your elders and higher ups with respect." He stood fully and crossed his arms. "That means adding 'sir', 'madam', 'miss', whatever the situation calls for."
"Yes sir!" Ludwig said, firmly this time and without the embarrassing squeak.
"I'm Gilbert." Ludwig realized that this person was no older than the one whom he spoke with at the battlefield, despite being significantly cleaner. He was paler than pale, and had silver hair that fell slightly into his eyes. "And you are now Ludwig, the personified country of Germany."
Hey, guys! Sorry for bring away so long; I had no idea how to do this chapter. It seems that this story has gotten out of my control completely. Anyway, to clear something I feel will be questioned by someone:Gilbert asks him what his name was, and he more-or-less said he didn't know/wasn't sure. I used his name in order to separate him slightly from the other two, but he didn't know his own name- - -sort of like he was being reborn via memory. Basically. I dunno; it made sense to me, but maybe I'm just horrible at explaining things? XD