Hello~ It's a few days late (midterms…*sigh*) but I still want to wish Taiwan a very happy 99th birthday~ (If only I could look that good when I'm that old, ne? XD)
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia or any of its characters.
The rainbow colored glass shimmered from its place among the elaborate aboriginal carvings on the old wooden comb as Taiwan ran it gently through her soft brown locks. A pale but firm hand picked up the plum blossoms resting on her dressing table and pinned them to her hair, right by the curl that seemed to have a life of it's own and refused to lay flat, where she had once pinned sakuras, and before that, peonies.
She stared at her own reflection in the mirror. She had no noticeable scars, unlike the deep gash that marked Yao's back, or the two terrible marks that marred Kiku's pale skin, but she was scarred as well, scarred inside. Her eyes betrays it all, even with the determined fire burning behind those deep brown orbs.
She remembered a time when she was called Formosa, when sailors exclaimed at the beautiful scenery of her land. She ran through the fields, bare feet against the land, with nothing on her mind besides the sky and the ocean that surrounded her world.
She remembered when Yao took her in as his little sister. She saw the world, then, through the ornately carved window of the imperial palace. He taught to her words that flowed so beautifully in poems she didn't quite understand then; words that came to life under Yao's rich voice and practiced brushstrokes.
"Ge ge!" She ran across the garden, bypassing the stone dragons that guarded the palace, to her brother, who tried to look disapproving of her unladylike behavior, but failing, as the edge of his lips were turned up in a fond smile.
"Close your eyes and hold out your hand, aru"
Taiwan gave her elder brother a curious look before doing as he says.
"What is it?" She felt something soft against her hand, and opened her eyes to see that Yao had placed a pale pink blossom in her upturned palm.
"It's a peony, aru. It stands for riches and honor." With nimble fingers, Yao pinned the flower to her hair.
"Is it pretty?" She asked eagerly, twirling around in circles. "I'm going to show Kiku and Yong Soo!"
"I think sakuras suit you better." Kiku commented, as said pink petals swirled around them. Yong Soo was running around claiming that he invented all flowers, and Hong Kong was sipping tea calmly in an effort to ignore him.
"You're just saying that." Wan said, sticking her tongue out at him. "Ge ge says peonies are his favorite flowers!"
Kiku studies her face for a long time before replying. He does that often, always so cautious with everything. "You'd like anything Yao-niisan gives you."
"He's the strongest empire in the world!"
There was a time when she thought her brother was the world. When she had no doubt that they would go on living in this tao hua yuan, with Yao and her other siblings, Hong Kong, Kiku and Yong Soo.
Then Arthur Kirkland came, with all those other people with paper pale skin and hair the color of the sun. And along with the foreign people, came opium, crates and crates of it.
And her perfect world began to fall apart.
"You can't just let him take Xiang! Do something!" She screamed at her brother, hating the opium fumes that filled the room, filled her world with despair. "HE'S YOUR FAMILY!"
"It's okay…" Hong Kong murmured softly.
First it was Hong Kong, then Kiku…
The deafening roar of war made her freeze. Her heart ached with all the bodies and spilled blood on the land that she loves so dearly.
"Why are you doing this?" Wan demanded, horrified, as Kiku drew his katana on their eldest brother.
"Come with me, Wan."
"What are you talking about! How can you betray him, after all that he's done for you?"
"You still don't see it? We're just another colony of his 'great empire'! See how Xiang was sent away just like that? He didn't even truly want to take care of you in the first place!"
"Shut up, Honda Kiku! I hate you! I HATE you!" She screamed, covering her ears. Nanjing was destroyed, along with many other cities, she felt every loss, and there was nothing she could do.
"Go with Kiku, MeiMei."
"You're sending me away too!" She asked, horror clear in her eyes.
"A deal's a deal." Kiku said coldly.
What was happening? Who are these people before her, talking of war and treaties? What happened to the people she had grown up knowing and loving with all her heart?
A gust of wind, frozen by winter and cold reality, whipped the peony from her hair. It scattered to pieces.
Taiwan rose from the stool before her dressing table and opened the closet door. She reached for the pink qipao she always wears, and her eyes fell on a black, wooden chest with the pattern of cranes carved on the lid. The chest was further sealed with a length of scarlet string. She didn't need to open the chest to know what's inside, but on a whim she pulled at the string and uncovered the lid.
Kimonos, pink just like her qipao, from her days with Kiku. Some of the fabric have started to yellow with age, and the whole thing smells rather like moth balls, but there's no denying that the fabric was of exquisite quality, a match for the flowers embroidered onto the fabric in elaborate patterns, and the variety of brightly colored obis.
"Here, I had these made for you." Kiku said, presenting her with the chest.
"My clothes are perfectly fine." Wan said coldly, barely looking at him. "I'd much rather you use the money to do something constructive, perhaps medical care since you used poisoned gas on my people!"
"Don't call me that! My name is Taiwan!"
"I expect to see you in a kimono at dinner, Taiwan-san" Kiku said stiffly. "And I truly apologize for the poisoned gas. I was not aware of it when my boss ordered it done. It won't happen again."
He left. And she lifted the lid of the chest once more, to fine a set of combs on the bottom, along with a pair of kanzashis adorned with sakuras.
She knew he tried hard to make her happy. He built the railways for her people, made many good changes in their way of life, and many other things, but Wan refused to forgive him so easily. He was profiting from all this too. If it weren't for that, he'd leave her just like Yao did.
"Kiku, stop fighting, please." She pleaded, tugging at the white sleeve of his military uniform. "I don't want to see anyone get hurt ever again." There has been too many wars, too many deaths.
"You'd rather I fall in battle, wouldn't you?"
"How could you think that! Please, Kiku, Both Italy and Germany have surrendered…"
She could never forget that day when the nuclear bombs hit. He knelt there, defeated. And despite all that he had done to her land, to her people, her heart ached at seeing him so broken.
"Taiwan?" Alfred F. Jones, with his aloof smile and childish self-proclamation of being hero to the world, extended a hand of friendship. "We should get you home."
"Home" means even harder times. Without Alfred's financial help, Wan doubted if she could survive. Meanwhile, Yao is becoming friends with Ivan. The tall, pale-haired Russian turned her dear brother into a person she barely knew anymore.
So she went to the old palace, carried all the treasure she could hold, and ran away from home. Yao didn't take this well, and they fought for the first time Wan could remember. What's worse, Alfred left her side as well.
"Sorry, Taiwan, but I can't help you anymore."
Everyone left. Those sailor who exclaimed 'Ilha Formosa!', Holland, Spain, Hong Kong, Kiku, Ge Ge, Alfred…
She would survive, because she's Taiwan. Even if she were all alone, she'd survive, and stay strong.
She could hear firecrackers far away, pulling the blinds open; she gazed out at her land. Her flag lined the streets, rippling in the wind. She saw the parade and celebrations, smiles and laughter from her people. She grinned, warmth flowing through her veins pleasantly.
Someone knocked, an impatient, hurried rapping against her door.
"I'm coming!" she yelled, running to get the door.
"Yong Soo?" she said, surprised, as she invited him in.
"Happy birthday, Taiwan!" Yong Soo grinned, handing her a gift-wrapped present. "Have I told you that I was the one who came up with the idea of celebrating bir-"
He was interrupted by another knock on the door, this time a soft, more tentative knock.
"…Wan-san, otanjoubi omedetou." He handed her a present as well.
"Doujins! Thanks so much!" Wan exclaimed.
"You two are here already, aru?" Yao said, stepping into the room as well, followed by Hong Kong, who is carrying a panda in his arms.
"Xiang-kun!" Wan exclaimed, throwing her arms around the quiet nation (at the same time ignoring Yao).
"…Happy Birthday." Xiang smiled.
"When are you coming home, aru?"
"It's my birthday, don't spoil it." Wan said, ushering Xiang inside and leaving the door open for China.
"…I brought cake." He looked at her hopefully, holding out the box as a peace offering.
"…Fine, come on in." She said stiffly, but inwardly she smiled, glad that they all remembered her birthday, and came to celebrate it with her.
The past is the past, wounds heal, scars remain, but scars are manageable. She's fine on her own, she tells herself. But still…
"Happy Birthday, Taiwan!"
… It's nice to be with family.
-Peonies were the national flowers of China during the Qing Dynasty, and chrysanthemum is Japan's but I preferred sakuras. And the national flower for Taiwan now is plum blossom.
-"Ilha Formosa" means "beautiful island in Portuguese. Named by a Portuguese ship that sighted Taiwan in 1544.
-"tao hua yuan" is a utopia depicted in Peach Blossom Spring by Tao Yuanming.
-After the Opium War, the Treaty of Nanjing was signed, giving Hong Kong to England.
-The emperor and other ministers of Qing did not want to keep Taiwan after they defeated the Zheng Keshuang, ending the Zhengs' rule in Taiwan. They argued that maintenance in Taiwan would cost too much money. They were persuaded to keep Taiwan by the admiral Shi Lang.
-After the first Sino-Japanese war, the Treaty of Maguan was signed, giving Japan rights to Taiwan and Penghu islands. After this, Taiwan will be under Japan's colonization for 50 years.
-"Takashiro" was how the Japanese once referred to Taiwan.
-The U.S. withdrew financial aids to Taiwan after Taiwan lost its place in the UN.
PM me or review if there are any questions and/or problems, or if I missed something.
A/N: Only when writing this did I realize that I've returned almost everything I learned in history to my teacher…Anyways Happy 99th to Wan-chan~ I love the East Asia family so much! One last thing, I do hope people will leave politics out of it, this fic is done purely out of my love for Wan-chan and is not meant to carry any political views from me. :)