Title: Shades of Love
Fandom: Hetalia: Axis Powers
Characters: Hungary Héderváry (Hungary), Roderich Edelstein (Austria), Arthur Kirkland (Great Britain/England), brief cameo of Alfred F. Jones (The United States of America)
Warnings for Chapter 5: Not beta'd. Use of human names. Adult situations and sensitive subject matter. Mentions of war, injuries, Hitler and the Holocaust. Changing POV. Five-shot.
A/N: Chapter 5. Divorce and Epilogue. So this chapter was really hard to write... Not because of the history of it, just because... It's a really depressing subject for me.;;
My events/dates are slightly erratic but I claim wibbly-wobbly timey wimey status and creative license. Historical information at the bottom of the chapter as always. I hope you like it and aren't TOO depressed by it!
Chapter Five (of Five)
Their empire was crumbling. It was no longer the great nation it had been before the war. The king had freed Poland, along with South Slav, Czech, and Ukraine and other areas were pushing for independence. Austria's lands had suddenly dwindled and his body wasn't taking it well. Already weakened by the war and falling economy, the suddenly loss left the male nation bedridden for several weeks.
Elizabeta nursed him even while dealing with her own country's difficulties. He would often wake half-blind with fever to see her sitting beside him, a book on her lap and her hand in his. Or he would feel the coolness off a cloth being placed on his feverish brow and he knew that she was taking care of him. And then one day he woke and she was crying.
"Eliza…?" he murmured, reaching out to stroke her damp cheek with his thumb. "What is wrong, my dear?"
"Th-They—" She was sobbing now. "T-They're going to be separating us."
Austria's breath hitched. "What?" His head spun from the news. "Who?"
"The Allies," Elizabeta choked out, "my bosses. They're making me—divorce—I don't want—I love you—"
The aristocrat struggled to sit up, but once he did he pulled his wife close. She wrapped her arms around him, sobbing into his collarbone. Austria ran his hand in calming circles over her as he burrowed his nose into her hair. He took in her scent; the aroma of clean linens and chocolate and the spice she never seems to stop smelling of, tasting of.
"Eliza, it will be alright," he whispered, stroking her hair now. "We'll make it through. Even if they separate us you know that I love you." Inside, however, he was a roiling turmoil of emotion. They were going to be separated. They who had been together for fifty-one years and had shared love and hate and fought through the war together. Austria couldn't quite believe it.
"I love you," Hungary whispered. "I love you so much. I don't want to leave you!"
"I love you, too," Roderich replied, "and I don't want you to leave, either. But what choice do we have? Orders are orders."
Her head snapped up, emeralds blazing. "We can fight it! I won't accept it!"
"And start another war?" Austria snapped. "Elizabeta, I am bedridden and both of our economies our failing. If we start a war, both of us will die!"
"I don't care!" She was standing now, hands clenched at her sides, tears of anger now running down her cheeks.
"Do you want to end up like your Magyar, then?" It was a low blow, and the Austrian knew it. "Do you want your country to vanish, your people to die? I know I do not wish this for you, for me, for anyone."
Elizabeta stared at Austria. "Roderich…"
"I'm sorry, Eliza," the aristocrat said quietly, "but this separation . . . it might be for the best."
Hungary's world came crashing down. "R-Roderich—"
"Go," Austria said, turning his face so he wouldn't see the tears streaming down her cheeks. "Just…. go."
"Fine!" The door to their room—his room slammed and for the first time in a very, very long time, Roderich Edelstein cried.
"Mister Edelstein, sir? We need you to sign this."
The nation sighed. "What is it?"
"Just some papers signifying your divorce from Miss Elizabeta." Roderich felt his throat closing up a bit as the offending articles were slid in front of him on his desk.
"Alright. I will get these back to you soon."
"Thank you, sir." The man left and Austria was left sitting at his desk, looking at the papers. He skimmed them, didn't read them. He didn't need a reminder that Hungary was no longer his wife, that he could no longer kiss her and make love with her without feeling guilty. He signed the dotted line and set the papers away, not needing or wanting to see them.
Hungary looked around her new home and sighed. Her boss had found her an apartment; nothing too big or fancy, just an apartment. It was nice but there were reminders of him everywhere. Her nightdress, the jewelry and other gifts he had given her over the years, the quilt that had been used in her room, the polish sword from her childhood . . . and the gold band which hung around her neck as a constant reminder of the fifty-one years they'd shared. Those years hadn't necessarily been the best years, but they were over half a decade of her life that no amount of work could erase.
But it was time to move on. Move on from Austria, move on from their divorce, just move on. It will be painful, but she knows she can do it.
The next time they saw each other is March of nineteen fourty-four. Elizabeta is imprisoned and Hitler personally assigns Roderich as her guard. The Austrian is certain his former citizen know exactly what he's doing; Hitler knows their history, knows what this will do to their psyches.
It shreds Roderich's heart to see the woman he loves in chains, but there is little he can do. The only contact they have is when he unlocks her cell to give her meals, which don't consist of much.
"I suppose you're happy now," she says one afternoon when he is bringing her the afternoon meal. Her voice is hoarse from lack of use. Roderich starts a bit and looks around. She's in an isolated cell of a room, and he is the only guard on this section of the building, but he fears someone might overhear. His purple eyes look over her—she's pale, thin and looks exhausted. Just like him. The war is taking a toll on their bodies. Her green eyes, once so full of life, look dead.
The Austrian sets the tray containing her food down on the table and replies, "I haven't been truly happy in almost thirty years."
Her eyes widen at his implications. "You—"
"Have not gotten over it," his hissed, violet eyes sharp. "I loved you, Elizaveta. I loved you so much. That kind of love cannot be broken by a simple divorce or change of borders."
"Do you still love me?"
Silence. His eyes showed the pain he was feeling as he tried to come up with a response. "Yes. I do." And then he turned and left her alone in the cell.
Hungary is woken in the middle of the night by the door to her cell opening and closing softly. Instantly the nation is on guard, but there is little she can do before a hand covers her mouth and the unidentified trespasser hisses "sssh!"
She falls silent as a hand fumbles in the darkness and produces a set of keys. The intruder places a finger on her lips, signaling for her silence as he or she removes the padlocks from her chains. The jingling rings are lowered gently to the ground to prevent them from making a deafening crash. Then the intruder takes her hand and leads her out of the cell and into the prison.
The other prisoners are quiet, save for a couple or snores of soft sobs. The person who freed her takes her the way the guards walk and into the bowels of the prison. They stop in front of a door which the unknown person pushed open and gestures for her to go into. She enters hesitantly and her savior closes the door behind them before switching on a light. The trespasser is wearing a long, hooded trenchcoat which the Hungarian has seen some of the guards wear when it rained.
"Take a uniform and change," the intruder says in harsh German, gesturing at the rows of uniforms hanging on the wall. "Hurry!"
Hungary complies instantly to the man, for it is a man who spoke those words. He turns away while she changes, something she is grateful for. When she is done the stranger drapes a coat like his over her shoulders and tells her to pull the hood far over her face. She obeys and the man motions for her to follow him.
They creep silently down desolate back hall ways and finally out into the cold, rainy night of Germany. The duo pass the guard station on the way out, where Elizabeta sees the guard on duty slumped in his seat, neck slashed and dried blood on his uniform. She covers her mouth to quiet the gasp that escapes and the man glances back, eyes glinting.
He spirits her away onto the streets of Berlin to an alley. There is a car idling on the curb which he leads her too. "Go. Get out of this land. Resist Hilter. There is still a chance for the world."
"Who are you?" she asks, wondering who her savior is. A moment's hesitation passes between them before the man takes off his hood.
It's Austria. She could have known he'd save her. She takes his hand, whispers his name. He nods and says,
"Come with me." It's not a question, it's a command.
He shakes his head. "I cannot. I must stay behind."
"My country is already in the clutches of the Nazi's," the Austrian replies quietly, "but Hungary can still fight. Join the Allies and fight against Hitler. This war has gone on for far too long. Leave here and don't come back."
Tears prick in her eyes and slid down her cheeks. "If you stay here you'll surely die for saving me!"
"There is a German resistance," he tells her quietly. "They have worked with me to stage this. It will look as if it was one of them who saved you, not me. Now go, fly, before they find us!" He hustles her to the car and right before he opens the door for her he whirls her around for a quick, passionate kiss.
"Find me when everything's over," he breathes when they part. Then Elizabeta is hustled into the car and whisked away.
Two days later, Austria is informally convicted of treason and sent to a work camp to die. As he steps from the hell that is the overcrowded boxcar and into the line that will head straight to another, he smirks. It is worth it to see her free.
After the war is over and Hitler is dead, she searches the directories for him. If he had been killed, she'd know—they'd all know. She gets information from the Allies that he is being treated at a seized hospital. She rushes to Germany and a flash of credentials later she is being shown upstairs into the packed ward. America is in the room, not even a room really just a cubicle made of curtains, with her ex-husband. Alfred sees her, flashes a thumbs up with a great big smile and leaves them alone in a rare show of chivalry.
Roderich is a sight for sore eyes. His beautiful chocolate hair has been shorn off and Elizabeta could see his bones sticking out under his skin. His violet eyes have lost most of their sparkle and his pale skin is made paler by the whiteness of his hospital gown. He's thin and weak and looks likes he could fall apart at the slightest touch, but he's still Roderich.
"Hello," she whispers, standing at the bedside and looking down at him. "I found you."
He chuckles darkly. "So you did . . . so you did."
"I'd hit you, but I'm afraid I'd break something," Hungary tells him sternly. "What were you thinking?"
His violet eyes show his pain. "You needed to be safe. It didn't matter what happened to me."
She sighs. Always the gentleman. "I got caught again . . ."
"I heard," he replied. "Come now, don't give me that look. Word travels through the death camps just as fast as it does out here."
"How can you . . ." Her fingers clenched in a fist and tears pricked in her eyes. "How can you talk about it as if it was nothing? Roderich, millions of people are dead!"
His hand, thin and emaciated, reaches out for her and he takes her fingers in his. "I know, my dear. Believe me, I know." A quiet falls over them and they are content to just be in each others company.
They are joined by Arthur who looks how they all do. Tired, worn, and exhausted. But there is a smile on his features. "Glad to see you're still with us, Edelstein."
Austria's lips twitched. "Good afternoon, Arthur. I am not trying to appear rude, but I would like to inquire as to why you are here?"
Arthur's expression immediately turns grim. "Right. Well, I have been asked to get your account about what happened at Mittelbau-Dora . . . I realize it is a sensitive subject, but we wish to get the details before they become clouded or . . . blocked."
The aristocrat leans back in his bed, looking older than he ever has. His violet eyes shut and he takes a deep, shuddering breath. "What do you wish to hear?"
"All of it, if you are able to tell it."
Roderich sighs. "Very well. I will tell you my story." Elizabeta stands to leave the two but Austria tightens his grip on her fingers. "No. Stay." She realizes he needs her and she sits. His hand in hers, the man begins to tells his story, his voice cracking every once in a while.
When his tale is over, tears are streaming down Hungary's cheeks and even England looks disturbed. "That is how it is in camps all over Europe," Roderich said. "I'm sure you've seen the death camps yourself. The gas chambers, the furnaces, the mass graves. In retrospect, I suppose I got off lucky."
"Don't say that!" Elizabeta's voice is high with mild hysteria. "Don't you ever say that! Don't you dare!"
Arthur looks between them uncomfortably. "I will . . . go collect more information. Thank you, Edelstein, for relating your story. I know it was difficult."
He leaves them alone again, disappearing with a flap of curtains. It's an awkward silence that spreads between them now. "Eliza. . ."
Her eyebrows knit in confusion. "For what?"
"For being the reason I wanted to stay alive." Green eyes widen in shock as her cheeks color with embarrassment. His thumb traces patterns on her hand as he whispers, "I love you."
"I love you, too, you stupid, proper Austrian man! I love you and I would kiss you if I could!"
"Maybe later, my dear." His eyes have regained some sparkle and Hungary knows in the moment that they share a glance that everything is going to be all right. Maybe not for a long, long while, but it's time to begin to move on. Move on from the war, move on from failing economies, move on from the hate . . . Just move on. It will be painful, but she knows they can do it.
WARNING! HISTORY CONTENT (and lots of it)!
(1) In 1918, as a political result of German defeat on the Western front in World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed. As one of his Fourteen Points, Woodrow Wilson demanded that the nationalities of the empire have "freest opportunity to autonomous development." In response, Karl I agreed to reconvene the Imperial parliament in 1917 and allow for the creation of a confederation with each national group exercising self-governance.
On October 18, Secretary of State Robert Lansing said that the Allies were now committed to the causes of the Czechs, Slovaks and South Slavs. The Lansing note was the death certificate for Austria-Hungary. With defeat in the war imminent after the Italian offensive in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto on October 24, Czech politicians peacefully took over command in Prague on October 28 followed-up in other major cities the next days. On October 29, the Slovenes declared their independence from Austria and joined the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. The Hungarian government terminated the personal union with Austria by October 31, officially dissolving the Austro-Hungarian state.
The new Austrian state was, at least on paper, on shakier ground than Hungary. Unlike Hungary, which had been a nation and a state for over 900 years, what was left of Austria had only been united by loyalty to the Habsburgs. However, after a brief period of upheaval and the Allies' foreclosure of Anschluss, Austria established itself as a federal republic. The Hungarian Democratic Republic was short-lived and was replaced by the communist Hungarian Soviet Republic.
(2) In July 1941, the Hungarian government transferred responsibility for 18,000 Jews from Carpato-Ruthenian Hungary to the German armed forces. These Jews, without Hungarian citizenship, were sent to a location near Kamenets-Podolski, where in one of the first acts of mass killing of Jews during World War II.
Worried about Hungary's increasing reliance on Germany, Admiral Horthy forced Bárdossy to resign and replaced him with Miklós Kállay. Kállay continued Bárdossy's policy of supporting Germany against the Red Army while also initiating negotiations with the Western Allies. Aware of Kállay's deceit and fearing that Hungary might conclude a separate peace, in March 1944, Hitler launched Operation Margarethe and ordered Nazi troops to occupy Hungary. Horthy was confined to a castle, in essence, placed under house arrest. Döme Sztójay, an avid supporter of the Nazis, became the new Prime Minister.
After German troops occupied Hungary, mass deportations of Jews to German death camps in occupied Poland began. Infamous SS Colonel Adolf Eichmann went to Hungary to oversee the large-scale deportations. Between 15 May and 9 July, Hungarian authorities deported 437,402 Jews, all but 15,000 of whom were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. One in three of all Jews killed at Auschwitz were Hungarian citizens.
(3) Mittelbau-Dora was a Nazi Germany forced labour camp that provided workers for the Mittelwerk V-2 rocket factory in the Kohnstein, situated near Nordhausen, Germany. The Camp was liberated in early April of 1945.
A/N: SEMI-DEPRESSING/HAPPY ENDING? I'm a sap, so sue me. It's also my headcanon that Austria was sent to the workcamp Mittelbau-Dora. I don't know why it just...is.
So I just want to put a big thank you to everyone who read, faved, alerted and reviewed this! Most notably, I'd liked to thank LePetitPappillon and MarxMaka (I'm not going to try spelling your username on this website so have a dA account name instead) for being awesome and helping me through this thing. I do have other AustriaxHungary stories planned, as well as PrussiaxHungary and PrussiaxHungaryxAustria stories! Don't know when I'll get around to them, as I've got three chapter fics I need to finish first and school is starting next week, but I'll try my best!
If you could leave a final review telling me what you thought of this story, it would be most appreciated!
P.S. I do realize there are probably many mistakes in this fic but I have no beta as of this time (one is in North Carolina w/o internet and the other is in collage and I don't want to bother her). In a week or three I'll reread my story when I am not so familiar with the material and then I will be able to edit it properly. Thanks for understanding!