Note: This is part of a series of one-shots titled 'The Rising Generation'. Reading the stories before this isn't absolutely necessary. The time line for the stories is on my profile.
A Reminder of the Past
Prussia's exact words upon finding out his brother and Italy were having a third child were: "Damn it, West, learn to say no!"
That being said, he'd never been happier than the first time he held his nephew. Gazing down at the tiny boy and seeing tufts of blond hair and brief hints of bright blue eyes, he felt hope return to his heart.
"We named him Friedrich," Germany said.
Prussia sat down on the nearest available surface, carefully cradling the baby boy in his arms. "Friedrich," he breathed, tears prickling at his eyes. "Mein gott… West, I…" He lowered his head, turning slightly so his little brother couldn't see him crying tears of happiness. "Thanks."
Germany awkwardly patted Prussia on the back. "You're not upset?"
"Course not!" Barked the ex-nation. "Y'named him after ol' Fritz, my favorite leader. Guess I raised y'right, West." He rubbed his eyes with one hand and then shyly reached down to tickle Friedrich's belly. "Hey, kiddo. I'm your awesome Onkel Prussia. I'm gonna make sure my Bruder doesn't suck all the awesome from you."
Friedrich babbled happily, looking up at Prussia with blue eyes.
"Ve~ He likes you!" Italy said happily as he walked into the room.
Dafne shyly peeked out from behind her mama's legs, her amber eyes drawn to her new little brother. Sofia was fast asleep in Italy's arms, her brown hair neatly braided back.
"Mamma," Dafne said, tugging on Italy's pants. "Is that my brother?"
"Si! Do you want to meet him?" Italy asked.
"Ve~ Si!" Dafne happily ran over to her uncle and stood on tiptoes for a better look. "He looks so cute! Like Vater!"
Germany turned pink at being called cute by his oldest daughter.
Italy giggled. "He does! I think he'll grow up to be big and strong too! But until then, he needs you to protect him, Dafne."
"Just like Sofia?"
Dafne happily looked at her baby brother for a few minutes before she got bored and wandered off in search of a toy to play with.
Prussia continued to stare at Friedrich in awe. As his brother and Italy began to fuss over a crying Sofia, he whispered a vow to his nephew.
"I'm gonna watch over you, kiddo. If you ever need something, I'll be there to help you in whatever way I can. And when you get older, I'll make sure West doesn't overwhelm you with serious things. You and me can go out and have some fun. Though if you end up being just like him, I'll have to teach you to lighten up. It's not right to be so serious." He looked up in time to see Italy handing Sofia to Germany so he could make funny faces for her enjoyment. The smile on his brother's face, even if it was an awkward one, brought a deep sense of pride.
"Then again, it wouldn't be so bad if you end up being just like him," Prussia whispered.
Italy happily deposited a giggling, muddy Friedrich into the bubble-filled bathtub. After spending the entire day at the park, he counted himself lucky that his son was the only one really in need of a bath. Dafne and Sofia were a bit sandy, one from leaping off swings and the jungle gym and the other from playing in the sandbox.
Friedrich, on the other hand, ran around during their stay and happened to come across the only mud puddle in the park and promptly sat down to play in it. That was only after he tried to climb a tree to catch a bird, crawled though bushes after a cat, and accidentally ruined Sofia's sandcastle.
"Ve~ Did you have fun today?" Italy asked.
Friedrich nodded enthusiastically. "Ja, mamma!"
Italy smiled as he picked up a plastic cup and dunked it into the water. With his other hand, he reached for a dry washcloth. "Close your eyes," he warned as he lifted the cup.
Friedrich obliged, screwing his eyes shut as his mamma emptied the water over his head once, then twice, and then a third time to get his hair properly wet.
"Ve~ Shampoo now," Italy said, first leaning forward to blot the water from his son's face. He paused for a moment after he withdrew his hand, frozen in place by the bright blue eyes of his son. With his hair lying flat rather than sticking up in whatever direction it desired, he really did resemble Germany as greatly as everyone said.
But there was something else.
He'd always admired Germany's eyes. They were so clear, so blue, like the crystal clear shores of a picturesque beach. But despite their clarity, they seemed dull at times. Dulled by the horrors and trails he'd withstood. Burdened with the duties of a nation. But how they shone for him and their children, lighting up in joy when Dafne presented one of her works of art; when Sofia completed a puzzle meant for children twice her age; when Friedrich stubbornly persisted in training just as hard as his siblings.
Friedrich's eyes were a blue untouched by the harshness of the world. They were like a cloudless sky after days of rain-a dazzling shade of warm blue, a welcome relief from gray clouds. They glistened with childish joy, darkened slightly when he was uncertain, and lightened when he was sad. So full of emotion.
"Mamma?" Friedrich asked. "You 'kay?"
"Ve~" Italy nodded quickly and reached back for the shampoo. He squeezed a little into his hands and then leaned forward so he could properly wash Friedrich's hair. Nimble fingers gently massaged in the soapy substance, for once not using it to tease his son's hair into spikes. As bath time continued with Italy gently rinsing out Friedrich's hair, there was none of the usual giggling and playfulness.
Fortunately, Friedrich was too tired from the day's adventures to complain and was half asleep by the time Italy lifted him out of the tub and dried him off. He was quickly dressed in his nightclothes and whisked away to bed, lovingly tucked in by his unusually quiet mamma.
"Love you, mamma," Friedrich whispered as sleep fully overtook him.
Italy kissed his forehead. "Ti amo, piccola mia."
After a long day of explaining to his boss why it wasn't a good idea to send Prussia to a diplomatic meeting with France (or any other country, for that matter), Germany tiredly returned home, hoping for a peaceful evening with his family. He thought he'd gotten his wish when he stepped into the house and didn't hear any crying, but the lack of tiny footsteps racing towards him hinted that things weren't completely right.
Even worse, there was no water merrily bubbling away on the stove in preparation for a dinner consisting of pasta. There was nothing.
Germany walked through the house in search of his little lover, hoping nothing serious had happened. He found the Italian sitting sullenly on the couch, staring down at his lap.
"Italy?" He repeated, walking over to him.
The brunet glanced up, his amber eyes troubled as they met Germany's clear blue. "Germany… I, um, I'm sorry. I should make dinner, right? A-and clean up. You can sit and relax and I'll- Oomph!" He tripped over a cardboard box as he stood to rush away, landing hard on the carpeted floor.
Germany dashed forward and dropped to his knees beside him, helping his love sit up. Worry gripped his heart when he spotted the first signs of tears spilling freely down Italy's cheeks. He reached out to wipe them away, but was stopped by a shake of the head.
"Italy, what's wrong?"
"I-I want to try something," Italy said, avoiding answering the question. He pulled the box closer. "Close your eyes. Just for a minute."
Germany hesitated, wanting nothing more than to pull Italy into his arms and hold him tight and wipe away his tears. However, if going along with what his love wanted to do would make him happy, he was willing to do that as well. Had it been anyone else making the request, he wouldn't have even considered closing his eyes, but it was his Italy asking-his wonderful, beautiful Italy who he trusted more than anyone else in the world-and so he obliged.
The second his eyes were closed, he heard Italy pull the box even closer and open it up, the cardboard tabs sliding against one another as they were tugged free. There was rustling from some sort of cloth before he felt something slide onto his head-a hat, most likely. Italy adjusted it to his liking before taking something else out of the box, draping it over his shoulders like a cape, tugging it into place and then smoothing it out with his hands.
"O-okay. All done," Italy said, his voice still lacking his usual cheer.
Germany opened his eyes and immediately looked down to see that he was, in fact, wearing what appeared to be a black cape with a high collar. He raised his eyes to Italy, who stared back with an unreadable expression.
The front door slammed open, followed by a loud greeting from Prussia, interrupting Germany. He sighed, knowing that it was only a matter of seconds before his older brother found them.
"Hey, West, what's this about telling the boss not to send me to Fran-" He abruptly stopped when he saw the two of them, his red eyes going wide in shock. He gulped, looking back and forth between the two of them, looking increasingly nervous.
Germany narrowed his eyes. What is going on?
Italy frowned when he saw Prussia's reaction. "So it's true…"
"W-what's true?" Prussia stammered. He gave a shaky laugh as he took a step forward, almost as if he wanted to walk over and join them on the floor but thought better of it. "What's with the get-up, West? It's not Halloween yet."
"It was Italy's idea," Germany said.
"Yeah, should've guessed that." Prussia sounded almost annoyed. No, scared? But of what?
"You lied to me…" Italy whispered.
"You lied to me!" His voice rose to a shout as he glared at the Prussian.
A shiver went down Germany's spine. He'd never seen Italy angry before. It was something he'd once hoped for, back during the Second World War, because he thought that it'd be the only way to get Italy to fight properly. But as he watched the Italian stand up, his amber eyes flooded with anger, he felt afraid.
Afraid of losing his lazy, lovable Italy. The Italy who greeted him with hugs and kisses and joyfully played games with their children. The Italy who grew sad when they couldn't have pasta for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Italy who cried when he was hurt. The Italy who never outright refused taking part in training exercises, but did them so poorly that he might as well roll around in the grass and play with cats all day.
"You and France and Mister Austria, you all lied to me."
Prussia shook his head. "We didn't! Italy, we didn't lie-"
"You told me he was dead!"
Germany's eyes went wide. Dead…?
Prussia was done defending himself, moving in to attack instead. "Because he is dead! He died a long time ago, Italy! Hol-"
"Don't!" Italy warned.
Red eyes narrowed in anger at being told what to do. "Holy Rome is dead, Italy! He has been for years!"
Prussia stormed forward and grasped Italy by the shoulders, ignoring his brother as he continued to sit on the floor and watch them in stunned silence. He forced Italy to look him in the eyes, taking some pleasure in the fear that blossomed across the brunet's face. "Listen to me. Holy Roman Empire is dead. France dealt the final blow hundreds of years ago. I was there. You think it was easy watching my little brother die? Be lucky you weren't there to see it."
"Is not him," Prussia interrupted. "Not anymore."
Italy's anger began to dissipate, replaced by confusion. "What do you mean? Not anymore? What does that mean?" He gripped Prussia's shirt, looking at him pleadingly. "Please! No one told me. Everyone said I was too young to understand. Am I still too young?"
Prussia glanced down at Germany, who looked too shocked to move. "You know, I always thought I'd have to explain this to West rather than you or anyone else." He sighed heavily, releasing Italy. "Look, Holy Roman Empire really is gone. When everything fell apart, when he lost everything, he forgot everything. Wiped clean. He couldn't remember himself or anyone else. He couldn't remember me. He couldn't remember you. I had to raise him all by myself, no help from old man Germania that time. Heh, he turned out alright, I'd say." He grinned down at Germany.
"So, Germany is-"
"Was," corrected Prussia.
"Was, Holy Rome?" Italy asked. "I was right?"
Prussia nodded. "Yeah. Hey, c'mon. I wanna talk to you for a bit. And West needs some time to process all of this."
Italy obediently followed Prussia into the kitchen, leaving Germany alone with his thoughts, still wearing the hat and cape.
As low murmurs broke out in the kitchen, the blond slowly pulled off the articles of clothing, giving them a once-over before depositing them in the box. His brain worked overtime to piece together what had just transpired, mixed with details Italy had mentioned of his past over the years they'd been together.
He'd heard of the Holy Roman Empire before, of course. He also knew he'd been alive during that period of time, though he remembered nothing about it. No one would tell him about that period of time the few times he asked, so he eventually let the subject drop, casting it to the back of his mind in favor of looking towards the future.
If what Prussia and Italy said was true, if he really was the one who used to be the Holy Roman Empire, then what did that mean? Who was he supposed to be? Was he Holy Rome or Germany?
He closed his eyes, thinking back to his earliest memory. What was it? After so many years it was easy to forget what went on during his youth. Was it Prussia teaching him to fight? Listening to one of Austria's many lectures on the importance of cleanliness? Or maybe it was fighting with France?
No, it wasn't any of those.
A memory. A battlefield. Prussia standing over him with worry reflected clearly in his red eyes. His clothing soaked with blood. Low murmurs from defeated soldiers. His mind blank. Unable to understand what was going on or where he was at. Prussia barking orders at someone before picking him up and taking him away from that horrible place. Taking him to Berlin, where he slowly recovered. Where he slowly became a new person, a new country.
He was Germany. His time as Holy Rome had passed and perhaps it was for the best that he didn't remember that time.
The question was, how did Italy feel since learning who he used to be? Would Italy still see him as him? Or would he see him as a fragment of the past?
Germany stood up and looked to the kitchen where Italy and Prussia were still quietly conversing. He stood there for a moment and then decided to join them. He had some questions that needed answers.
The second he set foot in the kitchen, he found himself bombarded by a clingy, sobbing Italian, who quickly attached himself to his clean white shirt. His arms automatically wound around his love, pulling him as close as possible to offer comfort. As Italy's unintelligible murmurs washed over him, Germany noticed that Prussia was nowhere to be seen.
He sighed. It seemed he would have to put an end to Italy's crying before he got any answers.
"Italy. Republica Italiana!"
Italy went rigid in his arms, hiccuping once as he pulled back to stare at Germany with wide eyes.
"Who am I?"
"Who?" Italy repeated, sounding confused. "You're Germany."
Germany shook his head. "No. Who am I?"
Italy fidgeted and looked down at his hands. "You're…you."
Germany patiently waited for him to continue.
"You're the one who helps me tie my shoes," Italy shakily continued. "You keep me from eating pasta all the time and make me do other things I don't want to do. Like in bed the other ni-"
"Italy," Germany growled in warning.
The brunet finally met his eyes with a cheeky smile. "You make sure I clean up my messes and take care of me when I'm sick. Sometimes you push me too much in training, but that's okay because I know you just want me to stay healthy but sometimes I skip out on it anyway to go eat gelato. You frown too much, but you've been smiling a lot more now and that makes me happy." He paused a moment before continuing. "You're the father of three kids. Our kids. And you're a younger brother, just like me!" He smiled brightly, though it soon dimmed as something a little more serious spilled from his lips. "You used to be Holy Rome…but that's not who you are now and I'm glad."
"You're glad?" Germany asked, confused.
Italy nodded. "He was my first love, but I was always so scared for him. He wanted to be like Grandpa Rome, but that's not what I wanted. I didn't want him to get too big and get hurt, but that's what happened… Now you're you and I know you idolize Grandpa Rome, but you don't want to be like him anymore and that makes me happy!" His cheer returned. "I like you as you are right now. As Bundesrepublik Deutschland." He stumbled over the official title, though not as badly as he had the first few times he tried to pronounce it.
An image flashed in Germany's mind. A young girl in a green dress and an apron, with short brown hair. No, not a young girl. A young Italy.
The image faded quickly and no more followed it.
He didn't need to think about what he needed to do next. Germany stepped forward and wrapped Italy back up in his arms, kissing the top of his head. "Ich liebe dich, Italien."
When he first heard the news, the first thing Prussia did was steal Germany's favorite car and drive to Canada. Yes, drive. It seemed that in times of great want it was possible for a nation to skip entire countries-or oceans-to get to wherever they wanted to be. Italy had certainly done it enough, driving Japan home from meetings in Europe.
Okay, so maybe he'd gone to his room and cried tears of happiness, reminded himself that he was awesome and that awesome didn't cry, then stole Germany's car and drove to Canada.
"Canada, you'll never guess-!" He stopped short after bursting through the kitchen door, unnerved by the number of violet-tinted eyes cast in his direction. Except for Canada's, which were a deep, warm blue as always.
The Canadian stood up, smiling at him warmly. "Bonjour, Prussia. Want some food?"
"J-ja." Prussia fidgeted as three pairs of violet eyes continued staring at him. As if Russia's creepy smile wasn't bad enough, little Mikhail seemed almost annoyed to see him. (Which may or may not have been because he accidentally ate the boy's pancakes the last time he was over.) And hell if he could tell what Iceland was thinking. Speaking of which… "Why's Iceland here?"
"Eh?" Canada seemed confused by the question as he walked over to the stove to flip a pancake. "Oh, he's my older brother. Didn't you know?"
Iceland pinked slightly. "Don't call me that, Vinland."
Canada rolled his eyes at the old name. "I'm Canada. Ca-na-da."
"And I'm Iceland."
Apparently bored by the conversation, Russia and Mikhail went back to eating their food. Iceland soon turned away from Canada as well, though he didn't do much more than poke at the half-eaten pancakes on his plate.
"So, what am I never going to guess?" Canada asked.
"Huh? Oh!" Prussia's excitement returned. "Friedrich's Berlin! Can you believe it! He's my old capital! Kesesesesese! That mean I get to teach him about stuff!"
Canada froze for a moment, his spatula hovering over the frying pan. "T-that is good news. Congratulations."
"Ah~ So he's a part of East Germany."
"Shut up, damn commie."
Russia smiled. "Hет."
Canada stepped in before the fight could escalate into something worse. He shoved a plate with a single pancake on it into Prussia's hands, giving him a warning look. "Let's have a peaceful breakfast, eh? You can sit across from Mikhail."
"Not next to Icy?" Prussia asked, grinning at the stoic nation.
"No." Canada's tone left no room for argument. "That's Hong Kong's seat. Please go sit down. And behave."
"Sure thing, mutti," Prussia said cheekily. He avoided his friend's swat and took a seat across from Mikhail, who continued to ignore him. He paid the boy no mind and instead proceeded to drown his pancake in maple syrup, cackling the whole time.
After pouring more batter into the pan, Canada joined them.
And for once, things were peaceful in the Braginski-Williams household. At least, until Iceland broke the silence with a comment.
"I wonder how well Moscow would get along with Berlin…"
All hell broke loose.
"Italy, where are the kids?" Germany asked after a few minutes of hugging in the kitchen had passed.
"Ve~ Spain and Romano took them for the night," Italy replied. "Dafne and Carmen wanted to play together."
"And my Bruder?"
"He said something about going to cockblock France for the night."
Germany made a mental note to talk to Prussia about using such words around his impressionable lover and then swept Italy off his feet and deposited him on the nearest clear counter. All thoughts of his brother left his mind and were replaced by ideas that were much more pleasurable. "So we have the house to ourselves all night."
Italy nodded giddily. "That's right! What do you want to-oh!" He gasped as Germany latched his lips onto a sensitive spot on his neck. "G-good thing I bought more cleaning supplies yesterday!"
"Italy, shut up," Germany muttered against his lover's skin. The image of Italy in a frilly apron-and nothing else-rose to the forefront of his mind. He could see it clearly. Italy, wiping down the counters, bending over to scrub at a stubborn stain. Him, walking up behind Italy-
Germany's train of thought derailed as Italy moaned softly.
His daydreams could wait for later.
Dafne Juliane Beilschmidt - blonde hair (with Italy's hair curl) and amber eyes - Germany and Italy's oldest daughter.
Sofia Wilhelmina Beilschmidt - brown hair and amber eyes - Germany and Italy's middle child
Friedrich Nickolaus Beilschmidt - blond hair and blue eyes - Germany and Italy's youngest child and only son - Berlin, Germany
Mikhail Irvine Williams - silver-blond hair and light purple eyes - Russia and Canada's only child - Moscow, Russia
"Ti amo, piccola mia." - "I love you, my little one." (Italian)
Mamma - Mom (Italian)
Bruder - Brother (German)
Vater - Father (German)
Onkel - Uncle (German)
I finished the scene at Canada's house at 1:30 in the morning, so if there are any horrific mistakes, please let me know. (I've looked it over, but I'm sure I've missed something.) Also don't know exactly why Iceland and Hong Kong are there. I suppose Iceland is escaping from Norway and Hong Kong needs a break from China or something.
My brain went in a completely unexpected direction as I was finishing up the GerIta scene, thus the bonus scene.
And look! I got to use official country names! I don't know why I'm so happy about that!
Never want to write another Germany=HRE story again. So. Much. Drama. But I probably will, if only because it gives me an excuse to give reasons why I support it. It just won't be a one-shot for The Rising Generation.
Next up! Who knows. Maybe the Carriedo-Vargas family. Or some more adventures at Canada's house.