America was not certain about what was going on; he had felt quite out of it for a long time, and although the fog in his mind had started to lift, he didn't want to believe what he saw, what he heard. He had attempted to remember, to figure out the events that had led to this, and the only conclusion he had reached was that it was his fault. He should have seen it coming, shouldn't he? He had fought the commie bastard, after all, he knew the man's quirks. He should have known that something was about to happen. Why hadn't he warned others? Why hadn't he tried to increase homeland security? All the signs had been there, and he should have seen them. And yet, everything had happened so quickly, far too quickly. First the sudden and violent attacks against Canada. Then the shock of hearing that his brother had been forced to surrender. Then the attacks against him, against his own home. Despite the violent attempts he made to defend himself, it all happened too quickly. The same day he heard that China had allied with Russia, he was forced to surrender himself.
Nation after nation fell, became Russia's playthings. Alfred was there to see when Germany and Prussia were forced down on their knees, beaten. He was forced to help with rounding up the Scandinavians, although this was a rather difficult task. As soon as they knew that Russia was nearing their homes, their old Viking-sides surfaced. When Alfred faced them, by Russia's side, he saw nothing of the kind personalities he knew. These men were warriors who would never go down without a fight. Norway was defeated first, and soon after him Iceland. When Finland was disarmed and forced down, Denmark and Sweden seemed to let everything go. Driven by the pleas of their friends to keep fighting, they charged in a blind rage. But eventually, even they were forced to surrender. It was painful to watch, there was no way for the American to deny that. As soon as he could, he went to see them, to make sure that they weren't hurt.
When the fog had finally lifted, America managed to figure out what was happening. There were some who had not given up yet; the British Isles. Assault after assault was forced back, and soon Ivan began to lose patience. He called for America again, along with a few others, and with their resources they managed to invade the countries. Only to find that Arthur and his siblings were gone. Immediately, the search began, but despite their best efforts, the nations could not be found. In a sudden bout of fury, Ivan gathered the ones he had brought with him and ordered them to tell him whatever they knew. When no one answered, he turned to France.
"You know much about him, da," he said with a dangerous smile. "So tell me. Where is he?"
Francis stiffened and shook his head.
"Pardonnez-moi, but I do not know," he said slowly. "I could not know where he has gone, he is not my child or my brother."
A gloved hand shot out and grasped around the Frenchman's throat, lifting him from the ground. Ivan laughed childishly at how the poor man squirmed in his grasp as he lifted his other hand and clenched it into a fist.
"Come now, little frog, tell me," he laughed, slamming his fist against Francis's stomach. "Where has he gone?"
Despite his best attempts to keep quiet, Francis eventually began to scream in pain as the blows rained over him. Finally, he was released and fell to the ground, coughing violently.
"A-away," he gasped. "Away from... from cities... Angleterre w-would never... stay near towns... H-he must be... somewhere o-on the countrys-side..."
"See?" The Russian smiled. "That was not so hard, da? Now, we go and search for them."
But the search still proved surprisingly difficult. When the Russian got frustrated with the evasive siblings, he ordered attacks on different towns and cities.
"If they are injured, they should not be able to go very far," he said, always with that childish smile. "We should be able to speed up our search for them if they have slowed down."
When the message finally came, when they heard that the trail had been found, Alfred was convinced that this was it. Within a few days, Russia would rule over the British Isles as well. Arthur would be his plaything. It didn't matter how strong the Brit was; if not even the United States could stand against the cold hearted bastard, then there was no way for Arthur and his siblings to hold him back.
"He's not one to give up," France mumbled one evening when they had stopped for the night. "Angleterre won't go down without a fight. They will be violent..."
Canada shuddered slightly at the thought, hugging his precious polar bear tighter.
"B-but he'll only hurt himself m-more," he whispered. "H-he can't..."
"Francis is right," he said quietly. "Arthur won't just give up, he's not like that... We're gonna have some trouble, I think."
After following the trail for almost two days straight, they were seemingly in the middle of nowhere, standing by a small gathering of large rocks. And on the ground in the shadow of the rocks sat three men with a dead body next to them.
"Ah, so here you are," Russia said cheerfully. "But I honestly expected to find all of you alive."
Ireland glanced at the dead body and smiled ruefully.
"Trust me when I say that it was a hard decision," he muttered. "But he asked us to do it."
America stared at the brown-haired man on the ground, or more precisely, stared at the wound over his throat.
"Wales," he croaked, actually surprising himself with remembering who the man was. "W-what... Why..."
"Mercy." Seamus' heavily accented voice called the American back and made him look at those who still lived. "We could not let our brother suffer anymore, even though we had taken more damage than him."
Slowly, the redhead turned his head and gazed at his brothers; Scotland sat leant against the rock and eyed the newcomers with a strange calm, and England seemed to be shivering lightly.
"Besides," he said slowly. "Besides... It's time for the rest of us as well..."
At this, Arthur slowly staggered to his feet, revealing a bloodied dagger in his hand. He moved over to Seamus, who calmly looked into his eyes.
"Have mercy, little brother..."
As the Englishman lifted the dagger and placed it against his brother's throat, Alfred suddenly heard Francis cry out.
"Mon dieu, non! Arthur, don't!"
Arthur pointedly ignored the shout and looked back at his brother.
"Farewell for now," he whispered softly. "Go in peace."
One quick movement, and the Irishman fell bleeding to the ground, not making a single sound as life slowly slipped from his body. Without thinking, Alfred took two steps forward, but stopped as the Englishman's green eyes suddenly glared at him.
"Stay back," he growled. "Don't come any closer."
Alfred shuddered violently as he forced himself to remain still; he didn't want to see this, he didn't want to see Arthur do this... But there was nothing he could do. He could only watch.
"'s not in us t' surrender." Angus spoke calmly as he looked at his little brother, who now shivered. "One in our family wouldnae e'er give up an' 'and ourselves over t' th' enemy during an invasion. We're no playthings o' yers, Russia. Th' land won't disappear, but it'll remain unchanged, e'en if ye try t' 'arm it." He took Arthur's hand and guided him closer, placing the dagger against his own throat. "We dinnae surrender," he said. "We dinnae surrender t' ye. We'd rather die."
His eyes locked with Arthur's, and he smiled softly and reached out one hand to wipe away the single tear that fell down the younger man's cheek.
"Dinnae worry, ye wee runt," he chuckled. "Ye know wha' 'appens. Th' world wouldnae be complete wi'out us, would it? Jes' give it time. We'll meet soon again." And so, he leant just a little closer, still with the blade against his throat, planted a kiss on the Brit's forehead, and whispered to him in Old English: "Habban cræft, lytling..."
Arthur made a choked sound as he translated the words in his mind; "Have courage, little one". Being asked to have courage in this situation felt odd, but he could not say anything; he only watched as the blade passed over the skin, leaving a deep trail of red in its wake. As his brother fell to the ground, the Englishman turned and looked at the other nations with a weak smile.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "But this is how it must be."
Just as Alfred and Matthew moved to step forward again, Francis grabbed their wrists and pulled them back. The Frenchman was frowning and staring intently at blonde man, as if waiting for him to make the next move. Suddenly, the green-eyed nation looked straight at them, smiling warmly as he raised the dagger to his neck.
"Abídan mec," he said softly, locking eyes with Alfred for a moment. "Goodbye."
As before, the movement was quick, and before they could react, he had fallen to the ground. Alfred let out a scream and tore away from Francis's grip, rushing over to his former mentor. But as he frantically both attempted to stop the bleeding and search for a pulse, he heard Ivan let out a boisterous laughter.
"Ah, who would have expected that," the Russian cried out with a wide grin. "A shame, da, but nonetheless entertaining! I hope you all enjoyed it as well!"
It took all the willpower Alfred owned to stop himself from charging at the sadistic man; the bastard was actually laughing about the whole situation. He didn't care about nations dying, not as long as the land was still there.
After Matthew had begged for a while, they finally got permission to remain behind for a while to bury the dead. Francis firmly insisted on a simple burial; Arthur had once told him that he would not want anything complex.
"I would prefer to adhere to his wish," he snapped when the two North Americans attempted to protest. "I am the only one who knew what he wanted, so we should do as I say! And his brothers were warriors at heart, and I dare to claim that they would want something simple as well!"
When everything was finally finished, the sun had already set. They set up a small campfire and huddled around it; Alfred kept his eyes on the four graves with a frown grazing his face. But whenever he looked up at the others, he noticed that Francis looked particularly calm, and that he was even smiling. Smiling, in a situation like this!
"Why the fuck do you keep smiling," he asked suddenly, unable to stay quiet any longer. "Why the fuck are you smiling when Iggy's dead? We only just fucking buried him!"
Francis sighed quietly and reached out to cuff Alfred over the back of his head, earning a yelp and an annoyed glare.
"There has always been a nation for every area, Amérique," he chided. "The Ancients, such as Rome and Germania, "controlled" larger areas, if I could say it like that. With time, their power weakened, and people began to put up new borders, they distanced themselves from others. And with that, new nations were born. Of course, the Ancients didn't disappear right away, they remained to guide the newcomers. But eventually, all young ones were left to fend for themselves."
Matthew frowned slightly and grabbed his brother's wrist to stop him from punching the Frenchman.
"That doesn't explain much," he said softly. "Francis, can you elaborate a little...?"
"If you two would be quiet, I was about to do so," muttered the blonde man. "Listen. There must always be a nation. Even if Russia has taken over, there are still nations around. And now, these places will be without nations, if only for a while." He smiled again at the bewildered looks he got. "Amérique, you have mentioned a woman from your childhood, before you met Arthur and me. Dark hair, dark skin? That was one of the Ancients; China is the last one alive, but the woman you only vaguely recall was one of them. But she never reached out to anyone." He chuckled quietly. "You took over after her, so to speak. Even if Angleterre and his brothers won't be here when it happens, someone will come, don't you think?"
Alfred didn't reply. It felt like the Frenchman hadn't said everything yet. And sure enough, within a short moment, Francis got to his feet and stretched, calmly gazing at Arthur's grave.
"You remember that he spoke to you just before he took his own life," he said softly. "Abídan mec, he said. Unless I have completely forgotten our childhood, that means "Wait for me". He's saying that he will come back. All we need to do is to wait."
Almost three years had passed since that day. Alfred and other nations stubbornly tried to get by despite being ruled by Russia. After Francis had explained that perhaps Arthur's death had not been in vain, Alfred had started to visit the country as often as he had the chance, hoping to see some sort of change. As the third year began to draw to an end, some things did begin to happen. One morning, while Alfred was visiting Francis, both Denmark and Germany suddenly showed up at the door. They were dragging two red-headed boys along with them, both with green eyes and fairly thick eyebrows. Alfred stared in surprise.
"We found them wandering around the isles," Germany explained. "I suppose you can see why we decided to bring them..."
"Looks like they're coming back after all," Denmark grinned as he grabbed the collar of the taller of the boys, stopping him from sneaking away. "We'll need to keep our eyes open for the last ones."
Finally it was happening; only two months later, Matthew came back from a visit at mount Snowdon in Wales, and brought with him a small brown-haired child who timidly hugged a plush lamb.
"He was just wandering around," Matthew explained with a small smile. "He wasn't scared of me, though, so I decided to bring him with me."
Alfred found himself smiling warmly and nodding. Only one left...
He visited Arthur's old home often now, as often as he could. He wondered where it would be, where he'd show up. Either at the old house, or maybe at some old landmark. But he just couldn't be certain. But one day, he finally noticed that there was something slightly off in the otherwise undisturbed garden. In the middle of the garden grew a large apple tree. Only the day before, there had been one particularly large apple hanging on a low branch. But now it was suddenly gone, and it was nowhere to be found. With a quiet hum, Alfred decided to try something. He had been to the only nearby store a while earlier, and he had bought some bread there. This he now placed by the tree before calmly walking around the corner. But he kept the tree and the bread in sight, in order to see if someone would show up. And sure enough, someone did come.
It was already night, but finally Alfred heard the sound of incredibly soft footsteps. After living in a large city for so many years, nights like this one were always so silent, deafeningly so, and every single sound seemed to echo in his ears. He heard a low voice, a child's voice, whisper something, and he peeked around the corner. There by the tree, holding the bread in his hands, stood a small boy with blonde hair and fair skin. He wore something that looked like a small nightgown, along with a dark cloak.
"Should be safe to eat," the boy said quietly, seemingly looking at something just above his head to the left. "I'm sure it's safe... He's been here before, he doesn't seem that dangerous... Yes, I know, but he feels... familiar. Eh? You know him? But why doesn't he come out and say hello, then?"
Then, the child turned slightly, revealing a face that was familiar, although so much younger. The eyebrows and the clear green eyes were a dead giveaway, though. Slowly, the American stepped out from his hiding place; the child heard him and spun around, pressing his back against the tree.
"W-what do you want," he yelled. "Who are you?"
Alfred stopped at a comfortable distance, smiling softly at the child.
"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you," he said. "I put out that bread earlier. Don't you recognise me?"
The boy frowned and nodded slowly, but didn't seem to relax at all.
"I don't know you," he said stubbornly. "I recognise you, but I don't know who you are. A-and I can't trust strangers, because they'll only hurt me!"
Alfred chuckled and crouched down, tilting his head.
"How do you know that," he asked. "Have you talked to others?"
"Then how do you know?"
"B-because I just know! I don't want to get hurt! Or chased! A-and they said that I should be careful!"
Alfred tilted his head. He did recognise that behaviour.
"Uhm... I don't want to be rude," he said slowly. "But who are "they"?"
The green eyes widened and stared at him in surprise.
"You don't know?" The boy sounded honestly surprised. "But they know you! They know who you are; they said you visited an old friend of theirs a lot!"
"... The ones you're talking about... Are they fairies?"
"Yes, they are!" Immediately, a smile spread on the round face. "They're really nice to me, and they've been helping me a lot."
Alfred couldn't help but smile. Of course. This really was Arthur, after all, only in a younger body.
"Hey, would you like to come with me," he asked. "I promise, you can bring your friends. And you can meet your brothers, and some of my friends too."
Although hesitating, the child moved forward, stopping just in front of the older man.
"I have brothers?" He tilted his head a little bit. "You really mean that?"
With a wide smile, Alfred held out his hand.
"I mean every bit of it," he replied. "Trust me, okay?"
A moment later, he was lifting the small child from the ground, embracing him gently. Giggling, the boy clung to him and nuzzled the crook of his neck.
"Hey, kiddo," Alfred said slowly. "What's your name?"
"Ah, the fairies said that my name's England," the boy replied. "Or well... They said I have many names, just that England is used a lot."
"Ah, I see." With a chuckle, Alfred trailed his hand over England's head. "But you know what? I'm gonna go ahead and give you a human name too."
"But I already have one!"
"You do? What's that, then?"
Alfred closed his eyes for a moment and smiled.
"Nice to meet you, Arthur. I'm Alfred."
A/N: ... Man, don't ask. xD I randomly thought of this and wanted to write it. I apologise for making it seem so rushed, but I was running out of ideas...