I promise someday I will post something that has not been on the kink meme first! ...Today is not that day. Reaaaaally hoping England and Germany came off all right in this; I haven't yet quite settled into their voices - or rather, just Germany's, I suppose, since this entire thing is from his POV. Crit and reviews are greatly appreciated.
The original prompt: "I would like to see an AU in which the nations don't know each other's existence, i.e. they assume they are the only personification in the world. And maybe their bosses don't know their existence either.
What I specifically want is two nations meeting each other, each assuming the other is a human, and develop a friendship/love for each other. But later it revealed that their new friend was in fact their enemy/antagonizer/etc. I want to see the shock and the making-up after the revelation."
It's a bad time for a German to be in England, perhaps, but he had followed after his soldiers and stayed when they left. He wants to see the destruction they have wrought with his own eyes, bear witness the sacrifices that needed to be made for a newer, better world.
And right now, his own land with trenches like shallow cuts across his skin is a little too overwhelming for comfort.
He doesn't expect to find a friend.
It starts in a little pub, when he buys a drink with the meagre amount of money he has. He nurses it because he can't afford more, but half an hour and a quarter into the mug later, a man settles next to him and ends up offering him another.
"Personal troubles?" the man had asked. "You've been at it," a handwave at his mug, "for awhile."
He'd replied, with care to hide his accent, "No, I... have no more money."
His English must have passed muster - or perhaps simply too many other foreign soldiers had come before - for he got little reaction but a snort. "Ah, those kinds of troubles. Never mind, have another on me. Share what little comfort we have in times of war and all."
"Thank you," he'd said, and took his drinking a little faster now that there were the prospects of more.
It ends, somehow, at the top of Big Ben - "Don't tell," the man'd said to him, winked and smirked before jimmying the lock open and motioning him to follow - with a bottle they pass back and forth. He finds himself confessing, "I wanted- I wanted to see what war did to people."
"What, didn't see enough back home?"
"I wanted to see if it was so everywhere."
"War is war," and for a long while, that's the last thing said.
They don't share names. They never think to; it seems as if they've known each other for a long, long time. It is a beautiful thing he never expected to find, and he treasures it, even as he returns. "Come find me again after the war," the man says, as a parting shot. "I'm always here. I'll show you Britain as it's meant to be seen."
It begins again back home, on torn lands and amidst corpses, in a trench. They see each other's uniforms first - "Fuck, a Jerry!" "Scheiße!" - and then as they both scramble to bring their guns up, the recognition hits, worse than a bomb. (A bomb is just physical, Germany thinks, he could have dealt with that. Feelings are so much harder.)
"You're-!" The enemy? German? Germany wonders what the Briton would have said were the man not cut off by cries from both sides. He doesn't think the situation could get much worse until one of his men yells out, "Mein Vaterland!" and the Briton's expression goes from stony to explosive.
"You're. You're the bloody nation." The laugh the man lets out is harsh. "Of course you are. Of course! Well, I am going to give you a taste of the might of the British Empire!"
It's all Germany can do then to hold his own and not think. He can't afford to think, so he just fights, and his mind is a litany of I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Pushed into too close quarters for guns, they resort to knives instead. He has the greater build and reach, but the Briton fights dirty.
And, as he learns later, the man really does have the might of the British Empire behind him.
He's finally taken down with a well-placed knee to his gut, and his - not a friend any longer, no - opponent slices his throat with a vicious jerk. "If only this would end the war," he hears, hissed. "But no, such creatures as us don't die so easily after all."
Ah. God. Through the pain, something like joy shoots through his heart, he is not the only one.
The shock of blood loss, when it comes, is a relief.
It... doesn't end, but continues like this: he returns to the pub where they'd first met, for if there is one thing he does, it is to see things through to the bitter end. Everything about him still hurts, and his neck remains swathed in bandages for the foreseeable future. He thinks he's coming down with a cold.
But the Briton really is there, if looking worse for the wear himself.
"I'm sorry," he says, before he can be silenced. He goes for honesty; he has nothing much to lose at this point. "I think meeting you was... the only good thing that came of the war. I, I would appreciate it if you showed me Britain as it was meant to be seen."
He receives silence, and then a snort that dissolves into low chuckles. "I think you might be the most brazen sod I've ever met. Well, I suppose I can afford to be magnanimous. After all, you're really the same as I am, aren't you?"
A nation? Undying? Lonely? "Yes," to all three. With relief, he offers his hand, and introduces himself for the first time. "My name is Ludwig Beilschmidt. It's nice to meet you."
The hand that clasps his is rough and calloused but warm. "Arthur Kirkland. Buy me a drink, and I might be pleased to meet you after all."