This is a story I've wanted to try writing for a very long time. This makes it harder, not easier. As a note—although I usually try to go as heavily historically accurate as possible, in this 'fic I'm trying to focus more on character than exact politics. This also includes finding a place for Prussia, seeing as who even knows what he was up to at the time (He was officially kind of dissolved before the war started, what even).
I would also really appreciate feedback and reviews; I hate asking like this but all the stories I post here get a lot of favorites and alerts… but no response, and that's kind of discouraging. Especially as I'm very unsure of how to write Germany, I'd really, really appreciate knowing how my driving is.
As a reward for cooperation, he will be allowed to maintain his own house as usual, provided, Germany explains, he follows a few simple guidelines. He provides a copy of them on heavy paper, and Denmark spends the lecture feeling the fibers of it under his fingers instead of listening.
He's not wearing gloves, although he'd like to. It's symbolic. Well. It's orders. He keeps thinking about the expensive, heavy paper, and wonders who Germany is trying to impress.
His surrender is handled efficiently and formally, and leaves Denmark feeling dry and hollow. There's no overwhelming sense of loss, rage—anything. Just his heart pounding heavy in his chest. He shakes hands with the appropriate people, but when Germany comes over, he refuses.
Even Germany's hand is formal, all fingers straight, arm bent at ninety degrees from his body, following procedure to the letter. When he realizes Denmark has no intention of shaking his hand, he drops it without complaint. "I'd like a tour of Copenhagen," he says, in a way that's an order.
His boss affirms that that's a good idea, and only Christian sternly meeting Denmark's eye keeps him from punching them both in the jaw. "Of course, Denmark will be happy to provide it," he says in perfect German.
Denmark still wants to punch someone, but Germany isn't meeting his eyes. He counts to ten instead. "C'mon then." In Danish.
Of course their bosses don't come along, although Christian could, there's no danger to his safety. But that's just how it is. More symbolism. The officials can pretend to make nice if they know their countries are doing the same. Politics on a personal level. The Germans see Denmark being friendly and think the occupation will go well; the Danes see Germany taking an interest and think the same.
He thinks symbolism is really just a kind of lying. A way of pretending things are one thing when they actually mean something else. Don't wear gloves, it'll make you seem more friendly. Use heavy paper, it'll show respect. Denmark doesn't want to be friendly, and he doesn't want Germany's damn respect. A war isn't about paperwork. If they want to torture him, kill his people, they shouldn't hide it behind heavy paper.
But Christian was very clear, so he shows Germany the harbor.
People stare as they walk past, a man in a Danish uniform and a man in a German one. The streets are empty. Most stores are closed. Some recognize Denmark, but he isn't greeted with the usual smiles and chatter—a few dirty, angry looks, and more expressions of shocked betrayal.
The harbor is as subdued as the rest of the city, although most of the fishing boats are out for the day. Even in times like this, people need money. Especially in times like this. The harbor is usually one of Denmark's favorite places to be, among the ships and boats and sails. He'll climb aboard and help the sailors, throw bread to the gulls, watch the water for seals and mermaids. But he doesn't want to be here now.
Germany scans the docks and Denmark supposes angrily he's counting the ships. "It's nice," Germany says at last. "Berlin's landlocked."
"Yeah, lucky ya, having a new port." Germany looks at Denmark and then pulls his hat down, letting the comment slide. Denmark wants to shove him into the water—or better, jump in himself, swim hand over hand across the Sound. North, to Nor. He's heard the rumors, you bet.
East, to Sweden.
Anywhere, if it wasn't next to Germany.
But he doesn't really want to leave, and the ground beneath his feet isn't German. Yet. "Copenhagen harbor," Denmark says, waving his arm expansively. "C'mon, I'll take ya to see the mermaid statue next."
He likes giving tours of his capital. What nation doesn't? And what capital is better than his? But the empty streets, the sound of Germany's boots clicking against the road. Some flags are missing, some are at half mast. No one, it seems, is sure how to proceed. But hell, the last war was almost a hundred years ago.
They go to the mermaid statue. Germany admires it dutifully, claims to like the story. Denmark for once in his life has no desire to brag.
Next they go to one of the old shopping districts. Denmark provides trivia about it's past. Germany comments on the smell of baking bread from one of the shops, still bravely open in the face of it all, and asks Denmark what kind of bread it is.
Denmark is willing to bet Bornholm Germany knows the smell of rye bread when it's being baked, and wonders what the hell the nation is playing at.
He leads him to the Church of Our Savior, and Germany comments on the church spire. It's closed off for the day, of course. "I'd like to climb it sometime," Germany says, and once again Denmark is fighting the urge to punch him in the face. How dare you imply you'll be here long enough to climb it when it is open. How dare that be the truth.
Instead he tells Germany about the history of the church, about how sometimes his capital is called the City of Spires, about some of the other churches in Copenhagen. Germany asks about the architectural styles and Denmark almost falls into that trap, that old hobby, the baroque of this church versus the rococo of the Marble Church, the muscowite revival of another, the renaissance style of a fourth—and he starts to talk about it, too, windows and arches, and then catches himself when he sees Germany watching. Listening. And then Denmark catches on.
Germany isn't just feigning a polite interest in the city, he is interested. He might as well be a tourist. Rather than being comforted, Denmark's annoyed. Annoyed by Germany's mispronunciation of Danish words, annoyed by his interest, annoyed by his uniform, his face, his appearance, his being. His politeness. His gloves.
His goddamn heavy paper.
Finally Germany asks if maybe they could get a drink, and that's it for Denmark. Christian's orders be damned, his own desire for several drinks be damned, he is not taking Germany for drinks, even if Germany paid. Let it lead to a fight. Please God. He stops in the middle of the street and says "No."
Germany walks on another step before he realizes, and turns. They stare one another in the eye, and Germany looks away first, turns his head and coughs. "Very well then. Can you lead me back to Christiansborg? I'm not exactly sure how to get there from here."
Denmark thinks of blood and axes and grown men barricading themselves away in terror of him. He thinks of Prussia in the '60s, rifle and bayonet and then when all else failed fists and knees and boots, of coming home bloody and broken, hungry and cold. No one had helped him then, and he'd lain in bed for weeks with Ice bringing in fresh bandages, unable to walk without a crutch until his body adjusted to no longer having Schleswig and Holstein supporting his leg. That had been an honest loss.
He is well rested, well fed, and leading Germany on a sight-seeing tour of his capital. The difference made him ache. All he wanted was to be punched, and Germany wouldn't give him even that.
"Sure," he says, and does.
It's dark when they do get back, the April night turning chilly. Most of the streets are dark, but Christiansborg is still blazing with lights. There are times electricity still feels very new to Denmark, unnatural, and the glow feels that now. Like a beacon he doesn't want lit. There are German soldiers everywhere, many of them greeting Germany formally when they see him. Denmark uses the main entrance, the formal one, the one he used to use when this really was a palace and only that. The tiled floors echo their steps—more soldiers here, too, leaning against the pillars, but mostly tense, watchful.
But not too tense. They're at ease, not expecting a fight. He knows enough about soldiers to read their body language, and he looks at Germany almost amused. Leaning against pillars? Talking amongst themselves?
"Not very Prussian," he says, and enjoys Germany's blush.
Security is never something Denmark has worried about, and he doesn't start now; it's just the fact of them, milling about, watching. They're waved through the checkpoints and then they're back in the meeting room. Some Danish soldiers are here—he can sense them, and tell by uniform—but of course, so's the head of state.
Two of them, he supposes. Technically. It's not just bitterness: as a kingdom, he's never really gotten the whole Chancellor thing.
More papers have been signed while they've been gone. He can see them on the table, and Christian is signing the last as they walk back in.
There are more hands to shake, more smiles to give; you can't just casually arrive at these things. He catches Germany greeting his boss in polite German. The man asks him what he learned, and Denmark eavesdrops, even as he stands next to Christian, pretends to read one of the new agreements. Something about grain.
Germany only replies that he can see why Copenhagen is called the City of Spires, and that it's a lovely city. Denmark had been sure he'd have at least counted ships in the harbor, although of course Germany could still be sitting on that information.
He's not sure if he's glad or further annoyed. But Germany's boss smiles like a weasel and replies that yes, the Danes have a very lovely country, and Denmark settles on annoyed.
Christian is giving him another look, so he makes his way over to Germany and gives his boss a formal greeting. They shake hands. He isn't wearing gloves, either, and his hand is dry and cool. He'd have preferred slimy and disgusting, but clichés aren't too common in real life. "It'll be a pleasure to work with you," he says to Denmark.
Germany looks pained, and Denmark decides that telling him to go fuck himself wouldn't work out well for his people. A beating is more honest, but honesty isn't the point anymore. "My best wishes for the future," he says with his biggest smile, all his teeth showing. "Germany's interest in cooperation will not be forgotten."
This is a phrase that basically means nothing, but Denmark's never been great at political talk. Germany winces, but his boss seems amused more than offended. "I always enjoy meeting you nations."
"Guess that's why yer tryin' to collect 'em?" He's kind of enjoying watching Germany's face twist and contort. Now his boss is less amused.
"Dänemark," Germany says, almost as two words, and he imagines soldiers lined up for drills. "A word outside."
"Yes," Germany's boss says with that smile again. "I think that would be wise."
"Would it?" he says low, his heart pounding excited.
Germany's boss puts a hand on Germany's shoulder, smiles at Denmark almost kindly. "Be gentle. He just needs a reminder."
Germany's face goes blank as he nods. Denmark carefully avoids looking at Christian as he walks out, practically leading the way, practically skipping. They don't go outside, just to an empty hallway—that's as long as Denmark can wait to punch Germany in the jaw, in the nose, in the gut, one-two-three, honestly drawing blood.
Germany responds with a right-hook, and Denmark backs off, grinning, spitting out the blood in his mouth. "Remindin' me, sausage?" He punches out again and it connects. Four to one. Dammit. "Come on, ya faggy moron!" Five. Six. Seven. Germany hits him once. Eight to two. Dammit. Denmark shoves him against the wall. "What kind of damn lesson is this?"
His arm pressing against Germany's throat. Germany looking very slightly to the side. "Dammit, ya prick!" Denmark swears and lets him go, digging out a handkerchief from a pocket and throwing it at him. Germany's blows were pathetic and will leave bruises, but Denmark aimed well and split his lip, hit his nose, drew blood. "Fuck you. Clean up. I'm not allowed to fucking beat ya up, am I?"
Germany cleans up. "It would be frowned on."
Denmark would accuse him of having a sense of humor, but that would be too much. "Dammit!" He punches a wall this time. "Heal yerself fast. Should be easy with all your new land. And for God's sake, fight next time you're in a damn fight! What are you playing at?"
"I didn't want to fight you," Germany says after a slight hesitation.
"Yeah, fuck you up the ass." Denmark runs his tongue over his own split lip. Germany's new bruises are fading already, but he has the feeling he'll have no such luck. They'll walk back in and everyone will see Denmark's hurt, Germany's fine, and think Denmark was punished for his mouth after all. And Denmark will have goddamn learned. Because if Germany had chosen to let his bruises remain, things would have gone much worse.
He won a fight and still goddamn lost. Germany hands him back the handkerchief, and Denmark knocks his hand away. "Keep it, it's fucking spoiled now."
"Danmark." And now he's saying his name in Danish. "I never… this isn't personal."
"Like hell it ain't personal."
"I didn't want this."
Denmark can't, won't deal with this right now. Not today. Not now. Hopefully not ever. "Get out of my sight, Tyske."
Germany closes his eyes for a moment, then carefully folds up the handkerchief and puts it in his pocket. "Alright. But our bosses will want you in there, too."
"Tell 'em ya knocked me unconscious or something," Denmark mutters, leaning against the wall.
They stare at one another. "Fine. Fuck you. Fine. Your boss is waiting."
He says it like an insult and means it like one, although even Denmark isn't sure what it implies, but Germany just smiles ruefully, mouth closed. "Yes, he is."
And there are more papers to sign, more hands to shake.
Of course there are.
• Dä—German abbreviation for "Denmark" (Dänemark). Originally, there were no finalized plans to invade the nation, just to take over the northern part of Jutland, but Hitler himself crossed out die Nordspitze Jütlands on the plan and replaced it with Dä.
• The Little Mermaid statue is a famous Copenhagen landmark. It was erected in 1913.
• The Church of Our Savior is a relatively famous church in Copenhagen, with a unique spire—an external staircase spiraling up it, with great views of the city.
• Rather than bore everyone with the details of the differences in the architectural styles, let it just be known that Denmark is referring to four churches in Copenhagen—Church of Our Savior (baroque), the Alexander Nevsky Church (muscowite—it's Russian Orthodox), the Church of Holmen (renaissance), and finally the Marble Church (rococo), which is a nickname for Frederick's Church. Given how well known Danish design in furniture and architecture is, and given that Sweden kind of took over the furniture niche in Hetalia (and in real life with IKEA), I imagine Denmark is a bit of a fan of architecture.
• I do not actually recall if the surrender meetings were held in Christiansborg, but assumed so for the sake of the story.
• Denmark teases Germany over the guards not being Prussian because the Prussian military was always very well known for their discipline, even more so than the German. Although them too.
• Denmark's insults are less insinuating Germany is those things and more him yelling out whatever bad word he can think of.