Warnings: This tale is rated M due to issues of racism, as the tale is written from Nazi!Germany perspective.
Be noted I neither support nor condone the views expressed by the characters in this tale.
Disclaimer: Clearly this does not belong to me. Nor should this tale be regarded as historically accurate. This is Hetalia universe after all…
Author's Notes: This tale was written for Hoshira/Doitsu's Storyteller.
It had been fifty years since the death of his former mentor and old boss. Fifty years since the haze of hatred or racism had clouded his thoughts, about as long since his lust for vengeance had consumed him.
Ludwig was not the man he used to be, but he could not deny that man was still a part of him. It was easier for the other nations to segregate Nazi Germany versus Germany as though he were two separate entities as opposed to being one nation, if only it were so simple. By dividing his persona into two, the countries were able to accept Germany back into their lives, both as a fellow nation and as an ally. Ludwig had long since come to terms with their denial, even if it bothered him to no end.
It also reminded him of how much he still missed Katyusha. Even during the height of the Third Reich Ludwig had secretly dreamed of their future. Ukraine always knew he was as much a monster as he was a man, yet she still loved him.
Fifty years of public shame, self-loathing and regrets had taken its toll and left its mark. Ludwig could not recall a time when he was not so driven by his crimes and the need to atone for them. Some times, he missed the days when the world was simple and he was naïve. Then he would recall the lifeless forms of his children; glossy eyes and empty shells staring at him in accusation or Ukraine's broken battered form lifeless on the floor of a filthy cell and the guilt would readily return.
He could still remember her once beautiful blue eyes, bloodshot and dim, staring at him with silent compassion. It was the memory of her eyes that brought Ludwig back to Babi Yar year after year.
All the evidence of the massive graves was lost now; only rolling hills and tall trees remained where the bodies of women, men and children had been haphazardly dumped.
Germany knew the truth and knew that Ukraine would never forget it either. He visited these hidden memorials to remind himself of the monster he was and the man he wanted to become. It kept him honest, and it kept him humble, more so than he would like to admit.
A part of him feared the day Katyusha would find him here, a greater part of him hoped that one day she would. If only so he could finally confess that she had been right all along, and to apologize, not through words, rather through action.
The sound of soft footsteps sifting through the grass drew Germany out of his reverie. He already knew whom it was approaching. Ukraine joined his side, but spoke not a word. In silence, they stood watching as the setting sun filled the twilight sky with purples, oranges, reds and blues.
There was so much needed to be said, even more that could never be expressed in words. She slipped her calloused fingers into his smooth hands and gave them a gentle squeeze of assurance. Germany saw no judgment in Ukraine's eyes and it gave him the strength to speak.
"Prussia warned me of the Fuhrer, but I did not listen. He promised me power, vengeance and a future. I wanted it so badly that I believed whatever he told me. I wanted his dream to become a reality; I wanted to be a powerful empire, to be the mighty Third Reich he said I was meant to be. He knew my pain my need for revenge, I wanted the allies to suffer and he gave it to me, that and so much more."
Ludwig fell silent as he debated whether to continue. Katyusha studied him intently and in that moment, he knew he had little choice but to speak further. She deserved an explanation, or at the very least, the truth.
"Prussian believes the Fuhrer used my despair to his advantage. The truth is I used his insecurities to my advantage. I used the rules to have my vengeance, and then hid behind them when I realized what I had become.
"I enjoyed the suffering of others, watching them fall and tremble beneath my hands. I enjoyed it all-then I met you and everything changed."
Germany had little experience when it came to apologies, though it was more than overdo he struggled to find the right words to express his guilt to Ukraine.
"Years ago you gave me a warning and made me a promise. The warning has come to pass just as you had predicted-"
"Now will you come through on your promise?" The words were far softer and more pleading than Germany would have liked.
Katyusha held his gaze as a sad smile crept onto her lips.
"I have long since forgiven you Germany.
"Now it is time for you to learn how to forgive yourself."
Torn between joy and uncertainty Ludwig briefly fell silent.
"I don't think I know how," he finally admitted in soft tones. Katyusha simply nodded in reply. Rising on the tips of her toes she kissed his cheek before whispering into his ear.
"Then let me teach you."
Closing his eyes, he felt her arms wrap around his waist as she drew near to him. All around them the tall grass swayed in the wind, while the night air was filled with the songs of the night birds. This place, once so filled with death, now teamed with life. As Ludwig met Katyusha's gaze he knew that one day, he too would learn to live again.
Slipping his arms around Ukraine's petite form, Germany smiled for the first time in many years.