Title: Subjective Truths
Author: Zalia Chimera
Characters: Prussia, Frederick the Great (before he was Great)
Notes: Inspired by watching a BBC Documentary called 'Frederick the Great and the Enigma of Prussia' which informed me that Frederick did actually try to run away to England.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia or the characters.
Summary: 18 year old Prince Frederick has fled the country, Prussia is not willing to lose him.
He finds Frederick eventually, in a damp forest near Mannheim. It isn't all that difficult, if Prussia is honest with himself, and that annoys him, just a bit, because he'd like to think that his officers are better trained than that. But it means that he can keep them in sight and take it easy and if it takes him three days to actually confront them after first locating them, well, that's three days when he doesn't have to endure Austria's smug sneering face. He's been particularly pompous recently, knowing that Prussia can't just punch him without disobeying his Boss.
No-one pays him any attention when he entered the camp, and it isn't as though he makes an attempt to hide his presence. It's just one of those things that he's always been able to do. His own people recognise that he belongs and let him pass without a second glance.
He finds the kid, well, he's eighteen now, not a kid, but that's a drop in the ocean compared to Prussia and this whole thing smacks of a childish flight of fancy. But the point is, that he finds Frederick in the biggest tent, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He's reading by candlelight and a smile quirks Prussia's lips to realise that he brought some of his precious books with him.
Prussia steps into the tent, the candlelight flickering over the buttons of his uniform, and clears his throat. Frederick turns and stands sharply, reaching for his knife and Prussia could smack him for having set his sword aside. He settles for rolling his eyes instead, stepping forward fearlessly. "I'm not here to hurt you," he says, and that is his truth at least. He can't vouch for anyone else. "If I were then it would be your fault for setting aside your sword when you're being hunted."
He sees Frederick's gaze flicker to the sword across the tent before looking back at Prussia himself. "You're one of Father's advisors."
"Something like that," Prussia agrees nonchalantly. He does, on occasion, advise. He can't help it if much of that advice consists of demanding that they go to war with Austria. That is entirely Austria's fault.
"You have come to take me back there."
"That too," Prussia says, lips curving into a mirthless smile. "Can't exactly disobey the person in charge, and I'm not too keen on my Prince leaving. Why'd you want to visit England anyway? He's a bit cracked at the best of times."
Frederick's eyes narrow at the odd phrasing, but he continues without comment. Prussia moves about the tent slowly, eyeing the things that Frederick has chosen to bring. "My uncle will welcome me. He, at least, will permit me my studies."
Prussia looks back over his shoulder at him, lips drawn into a tight line. "You're just running away," he says coolly. "Deserting your duties." Running away has never sat well with him.
"It is duty forced upon me and my father is a brute!"
"Well, yes," Prussia agrees without argument, although the disapproval in his eyes does not leave, "but he's still Prince-Elector, King in Prussia and all that. And you're his heir."
Frederick scowls at him and Prussia has to stifle a laugh. Wasn't often that the serious youth did something to betray his age. He acted like an old man half the time. "He has my brother who better meets his approval," Frederick replies, his expression darkening, "and better meets the approval of Austria." He says the word as though it burns his tongue to speak it, and Prussia finds himself leaning towards him a little, something in Frederick's eyes intriguing him. He already has the right idea about Austria.
"And you really iwant/i to give Austria that satisfaction?" Prussia asks, fixing Frederick with an intent look. "Let another obedient little elector be set up once your father is gone?"
"No!" Frederick replies harshly, his eyes hardening. "My father is beholden to them. He permits them to dictate to us, everything, how we should live, who we should wed."
"Is this about that girl?" Prussia says, eyes narrowing suspiciously. "England's princess? Because honestly, I uh... don't think she's really your type. Not enough to throw everything away for." It isn't that the girl is particularly unattractive and there were worse allies than England, but Frederick seems very attached to that soldier boy he's escaped with.
"It is everything!" Frederick says and the conviction in his voice and in his eyes makes Prussia thrill. Something special, this one. Someone to keep close to his heart. All the more reason to keep him away from England. "Austria dictates our alliances and our schooling and how we live. It keeps Prussia from being a true nation!"
That was a little too far.
"H-hey! I am absolutely a real nation!" Prussia protests, voice strangled. He had fought tooth and nail for every inch of land that he possessed, had earned it through bloodshed and battle and he wasn't about to let Austria say otherwise!
Frederick is staring at him now, confused and perhaps a little scared at the outburst. Prussia sighs and rubs the back of his neck awkwardly. He hadn't meant to let that slip so soon, but he couldn't allow that to go unchallenged. "I am a real country," he repeats. He's said it now, might as well follow it up. "Don't ever say that Prussia is otherwise."
"What are you?" Frederick asks slowly, and at least he isn't accusing Prussia of insanity. There is a calculating, far too intelligent expression on his face.
Well, there's nothing for it really.
Prussia draws himself up to his full height, shoulders back and a straight stance, and anyone in their right mind would have to admit that he looks impressive like this; unique colouring and smart uniform and his obviously regal bearing. As proud as any Nation! He kneels in one smooth movement, bowing his head to the young prince. "You know what I am, my prince." He look up, meeting Frederick's gaze unblinking. "You have always known."
There's a long moment, and it's a moment in which Prussia almost thinks that Frederick will laugh or bolt and he really hadn't thought this far ahead. And he'll let Frederick go, if it comes to it, lose him to England rather than take him back to become an unwilling and uncaring ruler, all that life and light crushed out of him, but dear god, he wants to keep this one.
But then there's a hand on his head, fingers warm and strong, and Prussia wonders if this is what human knights feel in the presence of their King, this love and loyalty that he's never really felt for any of his leaders before.
He chances a glance up.
Frederick is regarding him with a wondering expression, and there's a look in his eyes which seems far older than his eighteen years. "Lord above," Frederick breathes, eyes searching Prussia's for any sign of deceit. "I believe you. I do not know why, but I do. You are my country. You are iPrussia/i."
"The very same," Prussia says with a toothy grin, hoping the relief isn't as obvious as he thinks it is, "your homeland and yours to rule, when the time comes." He so desperately hopes so anyway.
"How can this be?" Frederick murmurs, still regarding Prussia as though he is the Saviour himself come again. "How can the nation itself have received such a countenance?" He can practically see the wheels turning in Frederick's sharp mind.
Prussia sits back on his haunches, the better to speak to the boy as an equal. "No-one is quite certain," he replies with an awkward little laugh. "We just are." The first thing that he remembered was being found on the battlefield as a child, and as far as he knew, no-one had ever done a study into the existence of their kind.
"There are more of you?" Frederick asks, his uncertainty with the situation turned to sheer desire for knowledge, the same desire that Prussia has seen in his eyes when he devours books of philosophy or devotes himself to learning another language.
"Of course there are," Prussia says. "I do not doubt that you would have met England if you had reached the court of your uncle." He grimaced a little at the thought. "I wasn't jesting when I said that he was a bit cracked. But he has been spending much of his time in the New World recently."
"Simply fascinating," Frederick says, and Prussia can tell that his imagination has been captured by the very idea. "And you exist for the lifespan of the nation. I had wondered how it was possible that one so young in appearance had my father's confidence. And how you seemed no older now than you did when I was but a child."
"It wouldn't do to have such a country as myself appear as an old man now, would it?" Prussia asks with a laugh, puffing out his chest a little. "We age, but slowly. I've looked this way for a good few centuries now."
That makes Frederick arch an eyebrow. "Immortality. It does seem impossible. A thing from stories."
A wistful expression crosses Prussia's face at that comment. "Perhaps. Heh, a great story, of course. You know my history. And we aren't immortal. We can die. It just... isn't permanent most of the time, and we are not touched by the passing of the years."
"You have seen many changes then. Many people."
"Of course!" Prussia says brightly. "I've seen the best of the world! All of the advancements and discoveries that have come about. Pretty awesome, right?"
There is silence for a moment and Prussia's smile fades a bit in the midst of it, uncertainty showing for just a moment. "It sounds lonely," Frederick says, a frown drawn between his brows. "We humans must seem as insignificant as mayflies in comparison."
"Not that," Prussia says, a wistful note to his voice, although he will never admit it, "never that. For a Nation, its people are what makes it. They are all part of us. I might not remember every name or every life, but I know that humans are not insignificant. Without them, I would be nothing. iYou/i are not insignificant. Why do you think I came after you?"
That earns Prussia a look of surprise, Frederick's lips drawing down into a frown. "I had assumed that my father had sent you to bring me back in disgrace. Mock me perhaps, with his dominance over a Nation."
"No!" Prussia snaps, eyes blazing. "Your father is my Boss, and I have no choice to obey him, but I have enough free will left for this. I came of my own volition, to ask you to return."
"But why? I will just be another ruler that you will be beholden to, surely." Frederick says, and he sounds almost repulsed by the idea, unlike so many bosses who have wanted nothing more than his submission. He could almost kiss the boy.
"I did not come because you'll be my boss one day. I came because I iwant/i you to be my boss." And that is not something that he has said to anyone else before. He has has good bosses and bad bosses, but never a boss that he wanted like this.
"Why me?" Frederick asks, his eyes wide. "You could favour anyone. My brother is as good a candidate as any. I am just a normal man."
"No," Prussia says, shaking his head as he reaches out to touch Frederick's knee. "You are something special, something extraordinary! If you become my boss, I will dedicate myself to you, not just as every nation must dedicate itself to its boss's rule, but as a knight to his king and leader." There is a flare of absolute conviction in Prussia's eyes, his voice firm and unwavering as he speaks.
"That is a heady offer indeed," Frederick muses, "the offer of a Nation himself dedicated to you. But come, you must wish for something of me, not just to be your ruler for the sake of ruling. What is it that you want?"
Prussia is silent for a moment before he smiles, sharp and hungry. "Make me great, Frederick of Prussia, that is what I want. Make me great, make me strong, make me a Power, and I will ensure that you are never forgotten, that you are hailed amongst the greatest of the leaders that have ever been."
His gaze fixes on the way Frederick's throat bobs as he swallows. "It is a lot to ask of one man."
Prussia leans forward, wanting to erase that uncertainly from Frederick's voice. "I ask because I know that it is within your abilities, even if no-one else sees that. Together," he continues, expression darkening dangerously, "together we can be a force that even Austria and those bastards in the west will fear. And who's opinion do you trust more? The father that you loathe, or the Nation, with centuries of experience, that you love?"
He waits for a breathless moment, and then Frederick straightens up, something regal in his bearing. Prussia knows that he has chosen well. "I think, perhaps, that I never had a choice in the matter. How many can claim that the country itself called one to Kingship?" He leans forward and cups Prussia's face with both hands, then presses a kiss to his forehead. It leaves Prussia blinking foolishly for a second, taken off guard by the gesture, fond and paternal in its nature, and he isn't used to being treated like a real person; a comrade at arms, perhaps, a soldier, but not a person.
Frederick smiles and pulls away. "You are taking a risk, my nation. There is every chance that my father will disown me or worse. I am a deserter, after all."
Prussia pushes himself to his feet, stretches to work the slight cramp from his legs. He cannot bear to stay still for long. Never has been able to. "I won't let that happen. I do have some influence."
"My father does not let things go unpunished."
"Never said it would be painless," is the serious reply. "The important things never are."
"What should I do when his soldiers arrive?" Frederick asks, the uncertain boy making a return, but Prussia has seen the man there, the iKing/i that he will become.
"Whatever you think you would've done had I not arrived," Prussia says tersely. "I can protect you, but it's not good if you don't protect yourself."
Frederick nods and stands, saluting Prussia as he would a senior officer, which Prussia supposes he is really. Don't get much more senior than the country itself. It makes him laugh softly, and impulsively he ruffles Frederick's hair. He won't be young enough for him to do that for long, so Prussia might as well indulge while he can.
A sound outside catches Prussia's attention and he sighs. It may just be the wind, but it reminds him of the soldiers making their way here. "I have to go. It will not do for my boss to know that I met with you." And he is no longer just Frederick's father, but Prussia's boss, the man who rules his land.
"Of course," Frederick replies, and Prussia tries to ignore the slight trepidation in his voice. He's convinced him to stay, so now he has to keep him from being a victim of his boss's anger.
"Remember, whatever happens, I am looking out for you," he says. "Things will not be easy for you, nor will they be pleasant, but I will keep you alive. You just need to trust me."
Frederick nods again, taking a breath, summoning some of that regal calm. "I put my life in your hands."
"Capable hands," Prussia insists with a grin. "Very capable hands." It makes Frederick smile and it is with that image that Prussia slips out of the tent and heads back to his tethered horse and kit, mind already working on what to say to his boss, how to protect this boy, so dear to his heart, when he knows that everyone else that Frederick holds dear; the soldiers who fled with him, his beloved confidante Katte, are all going die and Prussia himself will not raise a finger to save them.
- When he was 18, Frederick did attempt to flee to Britain with a number of army officers and his confidant (and possible lover), Hans Hermann von Katte. They never made it. Frederick was imprisoned and Katte executed, after which Frederick fainted and suffered hallucinations for two days.
- George II of Britain was Frederick's uncle (the brother of his mother), and George I of Britain was his grandfather. His mother had attempted to arrange a marriage between Frederick and Princess Amelia of Britain (who had been born as a Princess of Hanover because every royal family in Europe is related to every other XD).