A/N: Oh the cheese! –Dies- OTL
The young man's head pounded at the obnoxious voice and he pulled the blankets in the bed farther up to help block out the sound.
"Hey, kid, wake up!"
The child didn't want to comply. He ached everywhere and he had an odd feeling of detachment from the world as if he wasn't really there. In the morning sunlight, clear even under the heavy duvet, he glanced at his hands. They were there, visible, solid, and yet he felt like a ghost.
He let out an indignant cry when the covers were pulled from him and the hands he'd been examining went to cover his eyes, blocking the now blinding sunlight which was worsening his headache.
"Suck it up and sit up," the obnoxious voice insisted, though laced with what almost sounded like tenderness. "Come on, ya can't evolve if ya don't get better physically. And that was one hell of a beating ya took. Especially after being dissolved. I'm impressed you're still alive. Leave it to France to miss at point-blank range."
The young man felt a gentle hand on his shoulder when he failed to obey the command and allowed it to pull him into an upright position.
"I pulled the blinds, you can open your eyes."
The teen hesitated for only a moment before complying. His gaze first fell, in the now dimly lit room, on the glass of water he was being presented. Slowly, his sleep and pain-hazed eyes moved up the pale arm holding it out to him, to look into the face of the one who had woken him. The albino man wore a soft smile, despite the red eyes never losing the condescending glint.
"Go on, drink it. You're gonna have to get back on your feet quickly to keep up with me."
He did as he was instructed with the albino's help, gulping the offering down greedily, not realizing until he'd done so just how thirsty he'd been, never allowing the glass to leave his lips until he was tipping the last few drops back.
He simply regarded the man for a moment, his eyes lidded, too tired to answer.
"Who are you?" He finally managed to say, his voice cracking in his sore throat.
The man's smile faded for a moment and he looked at the boy, confusion lacing his features.
"It's me, Big Brother Prussia. Don't you remember? I used to play with you all the time when you still lived with Grandpa Germania."
The man—he'd called himself 'Prussia,' right?—placed a white hand on the boy's forehead, his face now laced with concern.
"Do you remember what happened?" he asked.
The boy met Prussia's scarlet gaze, attempting to understand what he was talking about. He couldn't recall anything of relevance.
"No…," he rasped.
"Kid… do you know who you are?"
"I'm-" but he cut himself off when he realized the answer to that question. No, he didn't know who he was. He couldn't remember his name. Now that he thought about it, he couldn't remember anything before waking up that morning. Prussia interpreted his silence correctly.
"Okay… wasn't expecting that but I guess it makes sense."
Prussia stared at the boy for a moment, apparently thinking intently about something.
"Well… what you were called doesn't matter because it's not who you are anymore. I'll just give you a human name for now: I don't think you ever had one. How 'bout 'Ludwig'? That's pretty badass."
The boy just stared up at him.
"Great! So until you get a new national name, you'll be Ludwig!" Wow this guy was loud. He chuckled as the newly dubbed Ludwig winced at his volume. "Now come on, let's get you something to eat, yeah?"
Ludwig gave a weak protest when Prussia, without warning scooped him out of the bed, draping one of the young man's arms across his shoulders and wrapping his own arm around Ludwig's waist. As odd as it felt to be carried like this by someone loud with whom he wasn't very familiar, he was unable to fight with much effort and, after a moment of half-hearted pushes, he gave in and rested his head on Prussia's shoulder, closing his eyes, willing the pain in his body to subside.
"By the way," Prussia added, as he dragged Ludwig along, out of the room, "what was up with that broom?"
"Broom?" Ludwig, asked weakly.
"Yeah. When I found you, you were holding on to it like it was a lifeline or something. You wouldn't let me take you off the battlefield without it."
"Yeah, you're states have been warring with each other for centuries. My fault partially but…. Anyway, I had to pry it out of your hands when I put you to bed. Any thoughts?"
"I don't know…" Ludwig muttered weakly. "I can't remember…,"
Prussia glanced up at the blond head resting against his neck, feeling a little guilty for bringing up his lack of memories again.
"That's okay. It doesn't really matter; it's not part of your history anymore. You get to start over and I'll help you become a new country eventually." Prussia could tell from the tight grip on his shoulder that the young nation was still very disturbed. "I'll tell ya what, I'll hold onto the broom for a while and I'm sure one day you'll remember why it was so important. But until then, just forget about it and focus on how awesome your situation is. I'll teach you to be an awesome nation and you won't have to worry about any of your old enemies or civil wars or recessions for a long time! It'll be awesome and I bet you'll be a quick study and grow up fast, yeah?"
Ludwig only hummed to indicate he was listening. Prussia held him tighter in an uncharacteristic attempt to comfort him.
"But don't worry. I'll keep ya safe, even after ya become a new nation. It won't take you long to remember how awesome I am."
Prussia didn't receive an answer; Ludwig's exhaustion from a war he had apparently lost had finally overtaken him, he had gone back to sleep, standing up and leaning against Prussia. Prussia stopped on his march to the kitchen, considering waking the young man. He was clearly still beat if he could fall asleep in such a position. Prussia decided to allow him to continue resting. A glance over his shoulder forced him to shoot down the idea of walking him back to the room he'd vacated—Ludwig wasn't light and the house was big. Instead, Prussia entered the sitting room, carefully positioning himself on the largest of his sofas and—deciding it wasn't worth it to try to untangle the small country from him—laid back. It was a lot of work being awesome, oh and saving a dying country was hard too. He could use a nap himself. With the brave young man now reduced to a needy, lump curled up on his chest, warming him through his shirt, Prussia closed his eyes, and fell asleep.
Ze time is Vold Var II!
Germany was struck first by how odd it was for the small nation to actually knock on his door before entering until he got a look at his ally's face. Italy, usually obnoxiously happy and cheerful, looked… distraught. Germany had seen him upset before—typically during training or when he didn't like the food he was given—but he'd never seen him look so lifeless.
"Are… you alright?"
Italy didn't seem to notice the rain falling around him, drenching his uniform and hair. If he was cold he didn't acknowledge it, instead stood with his arms crossed in Germany's doorway, staring at the metal threshold as if it were a barrier between him and the rest of his life.
"Can I come in?"
It was also very unlike him to ask this question: Usually he just barged right in and made himself at home, often tracking mud across Germany's carpet with no shame whatsoever.
"Of course," Germany said, stepping back to allow the Italian entrance. Italy didn't pay any mind to the fact he was dripping water all over Germany's hardwood and the look on his friend's face made it impossible for Germany to care. This was scary: If Italy was hard to deal with cheerful, it was nothing to him sullen.
"Italy," Germany called softly, "what's wrong?"
"I think you should hear it from me," Italy stated so quietly Germany almost couldn't hear him. "My nation has officially surrendered to the Allied Powers."
That… honestly wasn't surprising. Italy had been the first to surrender in almost every battle they'd fought in this war and he wasn't exactly know for being a vigorous nation. It was a disappointment sure, but in a lot of ways it would be relieving to not have to provide for Italy anymore.
"I expected you to, eventually," Germany stated, not quite understanding why Italy appeared so put out by this. He never showed any shame in his surrenders—didn't even seem to realize he should.
"I didn't do it because I wanted to," Italy murmured, his eyes on the growing puddle he stood in as he dripped all over the floor. "I know you think I'm useless and I'm not very good at war or battle strategies or fighting or any sort of conflict whatsoever, but I'd never betray you or Japan."
"Uh…," there was no denying any of that. "I… don't quite understand what you're getting at."
"Germany…," Italy whispered finally moving his gaze up to meet his friend's eye. "I'm not the one that surrendered. Romano is. He surrendered on behalf of the nation without my consent, with our new government."
So that was what was bothering him. Italy didn't find any shame in surrendering but he felt betrayed by his older brother in surrendering without considering his input. In all honesty, Germany could see why Romano had done it: Veneziano had agreed to sign the entire country up for the Axis without consulting him. Considering the trouble the two had gone through to gain unification, they certainly didn't have very good teamwork. One half of the country always seemed to be making the decisions for both of them.
"Italy, you're soaked," Germany commented, moving to the small linen closet by his front door to find something useful. "Dry off or you'll get sick."
Italy took the towel Germany offered him, wrapping it around his shoulders for warmth.
"Do you want to go sit down?" Germany asked.
Italy nodded weakly, finding comfort in the warm, strong hand on his shoulder as he was lead to the sitting room and plopped down on one of the pure white Sofas. Really, Germany had such dull taste.
"Can Romano really surrender on behalf of both of you?" Germany asked, taking a seat next to the Italian.
"Sí," said Italy, his eyes glued to his lap. "We're under one government now so when one of us gives the okay, it affects us both. We're in an undeclared civil war right now: the majority of his half wants to switch sides; the majority of mine wants to continue to fight with you and Japan. We might as well be two different countries!"
Germany had never seen Italy so distraught, and that was saying something: he'd seen the man scream his lungs out, cry over the stupidest things, climb into bed with him after a terrifying nightmare he refused to relay, and break down after telling a story about losing his first love in a war, but this was a different kind of emotion. This seemed like a much more mature sort of sadness than Germany had ever seen from the weak little country. He seemed understandably broken up (A/N: Lol, it's a pun), while trying to hold back and keep a cool head. This was most out of character for him. And Germany found it almost endearing.
"Do you and Prussia ever fight like this?" Italy asked, his voice muffled as his hands went to cover his face.
That was an outright lie. Germany and Prussia almost never fought. Germany was well aware he owed Prussia his life and, though he and Prussia disagreed on a lot, Germany was typically willing to give into his older brother's demands, and he was beginning to regret it now that it became so obvious he was after revenge on the Allies for taking his Nationship.
Italy glanced at him through his fingers, apparently aware of the bluff. Germany sighed.
"Italy, do you want to pull out of the Axis?"
Italy shook his head, hands still hiding his face.
"Are you sure? Because we won't hold it against you if you do."
"I couldn't if I wanted to at this point. Too many of my people want me to remain. But nobody wants to split the country apart again so Romano and I are just going to shoot each other when our backs are turned."
That was a weird thing to hear from an Italian. He could understand it when discussing South Italy but North was typically far too mellow. Completely lost for words, Germany slid an arm around his friend's shoulders, refusing to meet his eye but feeling the nation's shocked gaze on him nonetheless. Italy was regarding the blush on his friend's cheeks with interest. Germany would never admit it, but it came very easily to him, particularly when he was around a country of love or passion. Italy's head came to rest on Germany's shoulder and he sighed, content.
"Thank you for being here, Germany."
Germany didn't respond. He always felt so odd around Italy. Typically, he just chalked it up to the high blood pressure the excitable nation gave him. Sometimes, Germany wondered what a stress induced ulcer would symbolize for his people. He'd heard Greece had gotten one once when Mt. Vesuvius erupted…. Of course there was a little more to it than irritation, anger, stress, fury, annoyance, aggravation… Italy bugged him a lot. That was a part of it—a Russia sized part of it—but the world was a big place and there was a lot more to it than that. Germany felt he'd known Italy for so much longer than he had.
Of course, Germany would never admit any of these things out loud. Italy was already clingy enough as it was. The last thing he needed to know was that Germany secretly thought he was… what was a good word? Special? Sweet? Adorable? What was that last one? Germany shook his head, attempting to rid it of these uncomfortable thoughts.
"Germany," Italy called softly, his eyes on the small, round scar behind his left ear.
"Tell me a story," Italy requested, nuzzling closer to the burly, awkwardly-positioned nation.
The childish demand made Germany sigh, only to cover up the smile.
"Your past; you've never told me anything about it."
"That's because I don't remember most of it."
"Tell me why," Italy chirped, his breath on Germany's neck making him shiver. He ignored the odd reaction and granted his friend's wish.
"I was in a long and apparently gulling war when I was young. I guess I took a really hard blow to the head or two. I can't remember anything from before Prussia brought me home."
"Nothing at all?"
"Nothing. But sometimes I dream about a little servant girl I used to leave extra food out for. I don't know if she was real or not."
"Ve~ poor Germany! What year can you remember to?"
"I think Prussia brought me back here in AD 1806."
"Hmm… I remember that year," Italy said, a sad reminiscent tone to his voice. "It was… eventful."
Italy smiled sadly when he saw Germany's questioning look.
"That was the year my first love died."
"Oh… I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring up a painful date."
"Ve~ it's okay! I don't really think he's dead. Actually… you kind of remind me of him. He looked a lot like you and he spoke the same language and you have very similar personalities."
"Ve! Actually, when I imagine him at the age he would be now, I picture him looking just like you! Is that weird?"
"Yes. Yes it is."
"Oh. Sorry," Italy said awkwardly.
"Es ist in Ordnung. [It's Okay] You get used to this stuff when you're around someone like you as often as I am."
"Ve," Italy sat up, smiling like his old self again. "Grazie Germania.[Thank you Germany] I should go home now. My brother and I have to sort out what we're going to do. He doesn't think the Axis can win. Che sciocchezza,[what nonsense] right!"
"Right…." Provided my boss stops acting completely insane.
Italy stood and Germany followed his example, escorting him back to the front door.
"Buona notte [good night]. Oh!" Italy had just noticed he still had the towel Germany had given him. "Where does this go?" he asked holding the thing up for Germany to see.
Germany pointed to the closet from whence he had pulled the plot device—uh, towel, and Italy pulled the door open to—uncharacteristically—put something back where it belonged.
When the door was opened however, Italy gasped and the garment in question fell from his hands, landing with a soft fwoop on the hardwood.
"Hmm? Was ist das?"[what is it?]
Italy's hands were trembling as he reached into the linen closet, grasping onto something Germany couldn't see from his position behind him and holding it like a lost treasure he'd never thought he'd see again.
"Germany…," Italy began softly, his voice low and almost frighteningly serious, "what is this?"
Italy had turned; in his hands were the on the old broom he kept in that closet, purely because he never had the heart to throw it away. Prussia had told him it had been important to him and, despite never being able to remember why, he kept it around.
"That's… I really don't know what that is." Germany admitted.
"Where did you get it?"
"Ich weiß nicht." [I don't know]
"How long have you had it?"
"Ich weiß nicht. Since before I can remember."
"I have one more question, Germany," Italy stated. His hair had fallen into his face and Germany couldn't make out his expression. "Why didn't you ever think to ask Prussia who you were before you lost your memories?"
Germany was taken aback by the forcefulness in the typically meek country's voice.
"I've always been Germany-"
"bugiardo![liar!]" Italy suddenly burst out. This may have been the first time Germany had seen him legitimately angry, and Germany wasn't even sure what had angered him. He was glaring so heavily at Germany, the hands on the broom handle threatening to break the old tool. "You're a nation in the middle of Europe! There's no way you could have been around for all those years and had no one fight over you! Either you're lying to me or Prussia lied to you! Before you were Germany, you were someone else and-"
Why did he keep doing that? The anger had suddenly vanished from his face and he looked back down at the broom in his hands, as if just now remembering it was there.
"I have to go…," he stated, his eyes appearing very far away. The broom fell from his hands, landing with a clunk next to the rest of Italy's mess as the country in question turned.
But he was already gone, bolting from the house at a pace Germany had only ever seen when he was retreating, heading off in the direction of their enemies.
Italy was far from a considerate nation. In fact, many of his neighbors considered him a pest on the best of occasions. Now was not the best of occasions. He was so focused on what he had to do (and focused was something he typically was not) that he didn't even think about the fact he was technically invading the land of someone he was only aligned with politically. It didn't matter though; he doubted this particular Ally would shoot at him if he showed up alone. The door opened with such force it bounced off the wall beside it, leaving an indent which the forceful visitor paid no mind to.
"Agh! I surrender! You can take whatever you want just please don't hit me anymore!"
The nation had dropped to his knees without even looking to see who had just broken in, hands above his head, cowering on the purple carpet that adorned the entrance hall.
"Big brother France," Italy greeted, quietly approaching.
France looked up at the greeting and viably relaxed.
"Oh, it's you Italy. I thought you were a threat," he laughed and got to his feet, clutching his heart through the pink bathrobe he always wore before bed. "You startled me, you don't typically pay visits this late. I thought you might be-"
"Did you kill the Holy Roman Empire?"
Italy really couldn't blame France for the look he received; how many times in his life had Italy ever voiced a question in such a demanding way. Italy was always impossibly meek. Now, here he was being almost forceful. The look on his face made it clear he was serious and France was almost afraid of the uncharacteristic nature of the country standing before him.
"You heard me. Holy Rome was dissolved by your boss; that would have left his death in your hands. Did you carry it out?"
"I-I…," France's gaze fell from Italy's somber face to his slippered feet in shame. "Italy… you must understand, it was a different time. I didn't-"
"Just answer 'yes' or 'no'! Did. You. Kill. Him."
France moved his gaze back up to meet Italy's.
"Yes, I did."
"Are you sure?"
"Mon cher, Where is this coming from?" France asked.
"Did you see him dead?"
"Did you see him dead?" Italy repeated, his eyes tearing up. "Did you check his pulse, make sure he wasn't breathing, actually make sure he had died, or did you just shoot him and leave?"
"Well…," France said, eyes misting over as he thought back to that day. "I suppose I didn't actually stay to watch him die. I shot him in the head, though. It's unlikely he survived."
"Where in the head?"
"Say that again and you'll be dealing with the Italian Mafia! Where in the head did you shoot him?"
"B-behind the ear if I remember correctly! I felt terrible and didn't want to fire again so I left!"
"One more question. Where was Prussia during all this? Did you see him?"
"Italy, I don't remember. It was a long time ago."
"Is it possible… Prussia could have snuck back onto the battlefield and taken Holy Rome away to bandage him and keep him safe?"
France looked at the innocent, young nation, wondering what had suddenly made him so hopeful of that young man's survival nearly 150 years ago.
"… I suppose… it's possible."
"And isn't it also possible that the bullet damaged his brain in a way that made him lose his memory?"
"Yes… it's possible. Italy, what are you up to?"
But Italy didn't answer. Turning on his heal, he bolted again, out of France's still open front door back the direction from whence he had come.
If usual rules of anime were to apply, a missing person could be found in the basement, which was where Germany was heading to look for his brother. Italy was right—that was unusual—he was a country in the middle of Europe. He couldn't have remained hidden in Prussia's house for as long as he'd been alive. That was part of the reason Prussia had pushed him to become militaristic so quickly; he needed to be able to protect himself from the rest of the continent.
"Prussia!" Germany called as he began the descent down the stairs to the basement. He almost never entered this room in their house. It was storage mainly, which was part of the reason Prussia was there so often.
"Hey West! You should check out some of the awesome stuff we have down here! Why don't we look through these boxes more often?"
"Bruder, Wer bin ich?" [brother, who am I?]
Prussia paused, looking up at his brother from where he was squatted, sorting though a box, apparently confused by the question. Germany had little to no sense of humor which meant that request had been asked in the utmost seriousness.
"Was?"[what?] He asked.
"Wer bin ich?" Germany repeated, he looked sterner than usual.
"Well… you're Ludwig Beilschmidt —The Empire of Germany, Deutsches Reich, That little blob on the map in Europe marked 'Germany?'"
"I wasn't officially named 'Germany' until 1814! I ask again, Wer bin ich?" Germany was rarely this forceful with his brother.
"What brought this about?"
"You're the one who gave me my human name. You're the one who dubbed me 'Germany'. I want to know who I was before that. If I was in a war, I must have been someone and I couldn't have been Germany!"
The red eyes widened for a moment as Prussia finally realized what his brother was asking and sighed.
"I knew this day would come," he said rising to his full height and wiping his hands off on his pants. "West, you have to understand why I never told you. It was a different time. Your nation was dissolved. Back then, it was customary to kill a persona who represented a non-existent country or empire. I took big risk getting you out of there."
"Don't give me that! You've been lying to me!"
"I did it to protect you," Prussia said calmly. "If the rest of the world took France's terrible aim into account, they'd call in someone who could actually shoot and you wouldn't get away with just some missing memories. It was safer that even you didn't know."
"That decree has been invalid for years now! Why not have told me when the law changed?"
"Did it really matter at that point?" Prussia asked shrugging. "The decree was invalidated the year you became unified. You'd just officially become Germany and were completely secure in that. I didn't see any reason in uprooting your identity for an empire that doesn't exist anymore."
"Prussia, who was I?"
Prussia, glanced down at the box by his feet. Apparently making up his mind about something, he stooped, pulling an old canvas from its depths.
"Here. Take a look at this and it'll become clearer."
On the canvas was a painting of an adorable, little girl. One Germany recognized. It was a young maid curled up and fast asleep on a chair, the same young maid Germany had dreamt about for as long as he could remember.
"Where did you get this?" he asked, grabbing the old painting from his brother's hands.
"I went snooping around your old tent the day after you fell. That thing was important to you. You used to spend hours looking at it. I was glad it was still there, I thought it might be a helpful insight into who you used to be one day."
Germany couldn't look away from it; it held so much significance and yet so little. The discolored, cracking paint seemed to be encoded with a secret message meant for him to decode. He squinted at it closer, willing it to start making more sense.
"Was this girl real?"
The glance Germany threw at his brother over the painting revealed Prussia was suddenly uncomfortable, an uncommon sight to behold.
"Was?" Germany asked.
"You and… that person… kind of had a thing when you were little."
"A thing?" Germany repeated. Really, what an immature way of putting things.
"Yeah. They were very important to you. And they still are, actually. I don't think you always realize how important."
"What are you talking about?" Germany demanded.
"West…," Prussia began slowly, moving to put an arm around his younger brother's shoulders. "Do you remember anything at all about this person?"
Germany looked back down at the painting, staring hard at the peeling paint and cracked canvas, willing himself to remember. Little lines of dialogue seemed to reach him from a long way away, whispering to him through time.
"You run when I chase you and yet you chase me when I run? What's up with that?"
"I've loved you for a really long time, since at least the tenth century."
"What do people do where you're from when they like someone?" "Kiss, I think."
"A little," Germany admitted. "I think I remember what you mean about 'A thing'. I think I had a crush on her."
"A big one. And they felt the same way about you. In fact, they still do; if anything it's evolved."
"I still don't know what you're talking about."
"Take a closer look at that picture. The curl under the bandana, does that look at all familiar?"
Germany squinted at the little girl's head, noticing for the first time the twisted strand of hair Prussia was referencing. Actually… it did look very familiar: It reminded him of….
"Is this girl related to Italy?"
Prussia started laughing before apparently forcing himself to sober up.
"West, has Italy ever told you the story of his relationship with the Holy Roman Empire?"
"He tells that story to anyone who will listen," Germany said, starting to get frustrated with his brother's dodgy questions.
"Yeah, because a part of him doesn't believe that boy was killed. Forgive me for getting French on you, but the heart knows things the mind doesn't. Italy's heart knows Holy Rome is still alive and I think you're heart probably knows where he is. Look at the painting again. If you focus, I think you'll be able to figure out who that is and who you are."
Prussia was wise when he wanted to be, Germany knew that. He'd always hated it when his brother got all philosophical on him; wouldn't it just be easier to answer something outright? Nevertheless he did as he was instructed, looking closer at the painting, listening to his heart or something fruity like that. Hmm… now that he thought about it the girl was familiar to him in a way that wasn't just related to the dreams he'd always had. He tried to imagine what she would be like. She looked small and weak—was that sexist?—and he imagined her being oblivious and kind of annoying and yet alluring at the same time. What would her voice sound like? If she was related to Italy, it would probably be obnoxious and she'd probably use the word "ve" too much and constantly talk about pasta.
Germany brought the painting closer to his face. Now that he thought about it, this girl looked freakishly like Italy, and he imagined her acting freakishly like Italy. Another old sentence spoken long ago broke through his locked door.
"Goodbye, Holy Rome! Be careful! Try not to die horribly!"
Holy Rome. This girl had called him 'Holy Rome'. And now he remembered how he'd responded: "Italy… no matter what, you'll always be my favorite place in the world!"
"MEIN GOTT!" Germany screamed.
"Ha! The look on your face is awesome!"
"I'm the Holy Roman Empire! You never managed to find a spare moment to tell me I was the Holy Roman Empire?"
"I had my reasons," Prussia said, crossing his arms and smirking.
"You had your reason?" Germany shouted. "You never told me one of my allies was my former lover and-! MEIN GOTT! Italy's in love with me! Mein Gott I was in love with Italy!"
The sleek hair was disheveled as Germany's hands tangled themselves in it, his heart racing in panic. Oh shit. What did this mean?
"Hey don't get mad at me, you're the one that made out with Italy."
"THIS IS NOT FUNNY!" Germany screamed. "And I thought he was a girl!"
"Yeah… that's one reason I never told you. I wanted to see if you'd fall for him again knowing the truth. It was pretty awesome when you did."
"WAS?" Germany screamed, enraged. "I am not in love with Italy!"
"Then why is it you'd shoot anyone else who tried to climb into bed with you? Or who accidentally happened upon you naked in the shower? Or who ran across two countries pantsless to get comfort after a bad dream? Or who jumped on your deutschballs?"
"U-uh… well… I…"
"It's hard to imagine you accepting underwear from Japan as a Christmas present.
"I—It's to appease him! He's annoying and clingy and a pest and he needs a stern hand and-"
"And you love him," Prussia smirked.
"Of course I don't!" Germany insisted a little too defensively. "He's a man! I'm attracted to big-breasted women! Haven't you seen my collection?"
"And Italy's attracted to beautiful, young maidens. And I'm attracted to Hung—uh… pretty, little girls. But we can all admit we've made exceptions. You were just special too him. And I think Italy's special to you, too."
"Italy's not special to me!" Germany denied vehemently, overlooking the fact he'd just thought of him using that very word not an hour ago. "He's a pest and a nuisance and I wish he would align with someone else half the time and I always have to bail him out of trouble and… and…,"
"Und Sie lieben ihn." [and you love him]
Germany was shaking his head in disbelief. He couldn't be in love with Italy, he just couldn't. Falling for Italy would be the worst thing possible. No, it wasn't him that was in love with Italy, it was Holy Rome. Holy Rome had fallen for someone he'd mistaken as a girl and had never realized his mistake. He wasn't Holy Rome anymore. And Italy wasn't in love with him he was in love with Holy Rome. Holy Rome was gone and Italy knew that, right? So there shouldn't be a problem, right? Right?
But I promised I'd come back Germany remembered. But he'd kept his promise. He'd returned and helped Italy in many more ways than any one nation should be required. He had no reason to do anymore than continue being his friend. He wouldn't deny loving Italy as such.
Above them, a door slammed and they heard frantic footsteps pounding their way through their home, searching for something.
"Speak of the devil," Prussia said grinning up at the ceiling above them, "that must be you're little, Italian princess now!"
Germany was seriously considering pulling out his gun when the sound of shattering glass pulled his attention back to what was happening above them.
"You better go tend to him before he tears the house apart," Prussia suggested mildly.
Germany nodded, running back up the stairs to stop his rampaging Italian.
He was used to hearing his name said like this; sternly shouted in warning laced with concern. But this time it felt different. When Italy heard Germany's call, he stopped, freezing mid-tirade and turning in the direction of the call, his eyes wide, glazed over with unshed tears.
"Holy Rome…," Italy whispered and Germany's heart sank.
Out of instinct more than anything, Germany's arms opened to accept the hug the Italian threw at him. He was so used to this by now, Italy burying his face into the German's neck, his arms coming around his shoulder and squeezing with the strength Germany would otherwise never believe he possessed. The trembling sobs racking his body compelled the German—on instinct, of course—to hold him tighter as he felt the tears on his neck.
"I knew you were alive. I always knew."
It was really starting to come back to him now: he had been the Holy Roman Empire, grandson of the great Germania, controller of a huge portion of Europe before his last boss was defeated and surrendered him over to France who's boss ordered his dissolution in 1806. France was ordered to kill him and… he couldn't remember. He supposed he must have been shot. But he now remembered the dreams he had always had about the days the wars would end and he'd gain back his power and could return home and see Italy again. Italy, who had promised to wait for him. Italy, who had loved him. Italy, whom he had loved. Italy who was standing here now as if they hadn't know each other for nearly thirty years now.
Ludwig didn't know what made him angrier; the fact that Italy had broken his promise to Holy Rome, or the fact he'd never cried like this for Germany. Nothing had changed, he'd always been Holy Rome. Why did it take that discovery to get him to see what he wanted from him? Was he not good enough as Germany?
Unable to stand being in this position any longer, Ludwig shoved the crying Italian away from him, holding him away at arm's length by his shoulders. His eyes glued to the floor, he did not see the confused and hurt expression on Italy's tear-stained face.
"I'm not Holy Rome," Ludwig stated.
"Ve? What are you talking about? Yes you are! I just spoke to big brother France and-!"
"I used to be Holy Rome, but I'm not anymore. I'm Germany now."
"Sì, you're Germany and Holy Rome and that's-"
"I'm not! I'm not Holy Rome! I can't be Holy Rome again! I'm Germany!"
"B-but I… Holy-"
"Don't call me that again."
"I-I-!" Italy's voice was growing more and more frantic. He was clearly scrambling around in his head, searching for the right thing to say, before he bit his lip and bowed his head looking anywhere but at the identity crisis in front of him.
"No matter what I say, I'm wrong. Why? Don't you want me anymore?"
Ludwig sighed, his hands dropping from the Italian's shoulders.
"Holy Rome wanted you. I never did."
That was really just a roundabout way of saying Germany wasn't sure. A very hurtful and non-direct way of saying Germany wasn't a moment, there was silence broken only by Italy's heavy breathing before—
At first, Ludwig didn't know what had happened or why his head had suddenly turned and his cheek hurt. Then his gaze moved back to Italy, who's eyes looked darker than he had ever seen.
"I can't stand it when people lie to me."
Italy glared at him darkly for only a second longer, before he turned his back on the nation and bolted from the house, in full blown retreat, something both Germany and Holy Rome recognized only too well.
"My brother wants to kill me, Big Brother France thinks I'm insane and my best friend is my dead boyfriend! Today is a terrible day!"
Spain had dragged himself out of bed at this impossibly late hour to answer the frantic doorbell only to be on the receiving end of a Glomp that nearly toppled him over. Awkwardly, he patted Italy's back in what he hopped would be a comforting way realizing the young nation was crying.
"Uh… es bueno, It'll be okay. Here, come inside, it's cold out."
"Ve," Italy sobbed, rubbing at his eyes.
Spain led the younger nation into his home, sitting him down at the round kitchen table, giving him a reassuring pat on the back as he searched for comfort food.
"Here," he said setting a plate of churros down in from of him and taking the spot across from him. "Lovinito and I made them earlier today, so they should still be relatively fresh."
"Fratello was here?"
"Sí, he came over because he was upset about your fight as well. I hate to play mediator between you two," Spain laughed. This was the upside of coming to talk to Spain: he was always chipper, always in a good mood and was always willing to listen. "So, I know about your fight with Lovino. Could we go back to the 'best friend is dead boyfriend' thing? That threw me."
Tearfully, Italy relayed the events of the night that had led him here and Spain listened intently as he explained what had been revealed.
"Holy Rome is still alive?" Spain clarified when the story was done.
"Sì…," Italy mumbled.
"Wow, I knew France was a bad shot but I didn't think even he could miss someone at point-blank range after firing into their head."
"Big Brother Spain, why doesn't Holy Rome want me anymore?" Italy asked nearing hysterics. "And why does Germany talk about himself like he and Holy Rome aren't the same person?"
"Pues, maybe to him they are not?" Spain suggested, shrugging one shoulder, aware how odd this who situation was.
The whole world had known of the great Holy Roman Empire's fling with the grandson of the Roman Empire, but only a few, Spain included, were aware Holy Rome hadn't known his first love had been a boy. Spain only knew because he was called out on it a lot ("Austria thought Italy was a girl, what was your excuse for dressing up Romano until he was in his late 900's?" He'd just looked so damn cute!) Spain hadn't been there when France had revealed The Holy Roman Empire was no more but he'd heard Italy had taken it extremely hard. Two days later, Italy was certain Holy Rome had survived and no one had had the heart to shatter his dream. Good call, apparently, though it was an odd coincidence he would end up being the first country willing to align with Italy out of something other than necessity since the Italian wars.
"Try to look at this from his perspective," Spain went on, grabbing a churro. "He's spent the last century and a half being Germany, just Germany, not even knowing he was once the Holy Roman Empire and now he's suddenly starting to get his memories back and in that process has to realize he was once in love with someone he's aligned with now. That must be overwhelming, don't you think?"
"Credo che…. [I guess….]" Italy said softly, wiping his nose with the back of his hand.
"Sí, and on top of that, I think he may be a bit confused as to what he feels for you now as opposed to what he used to feel for you." Was that not the story of Spain's life? Romano for 500. But he wasn't going to mention that to Italy. "And he's probably a little worried about how you feel about him as a whole." Really, he could be taking about himself.
"Ve, Che vuoi dire? [What do you mean?]"
"Venezianito, would you be feeling like this if it was just Germany?"
Italy had to think about that for a moment. He thought back to all the times Germany had had to save him and help him with things he was useless at. He thought about all the times he'd taken advantage of Germany's buried good nature and been annoyingly clinging and made him mad. He thought about all the times Germany had yelled at him and scared him and how many times Italy had found comfort in him when something else had scared him. He thought of the times he had worried Germany didn't want to be friends anymore and how much the thought of not being around him wounded his heart.
"No…," Italy said slowly. "I'd be feeling worse… because Germany would have a good reason. I'm useless."
"No, no eres inútil. [you're not useless] You just… trust your fellow country more than most of us. If Germany could put up with it for this long, you're safe. Do you only want him now because you know he's Holy Rome?"
"No! I wanted him before I knew he was Holy Rome! I just didn't think he'd want me…," Italy admitted, his cheeks reddening. "And I felt bad because… I promised Holy Rome I'd wait for him."
Spain smiled, encouragingly.
"You should explain that to him," he said with certainty.
"You think he'll listen?"
"Sí! But it can wait until tomorrow. Es muy tarde [It's very late]," Spain got to his feet, stretching his arms out over his head with a yawn. "You should stay here and get some rest tonight, Venezianito. You look exhausted."
"Here," Spain held a hand out to the sleepy nation, "You can sleep in Lovi's old room. He still uses it when he comes over so you should feel right at home."
"Grazie Spagna Fratello. [Thank you big brother Spain.]"
"De Nada. Piensa nada de lo. [You're welcome. Think nothing of it.]"
"I don't want to hear it, Prussia!"
"West, do ya wanna know what I think?"
"What did I just say?"
"I think you're scared," Prussia said simply, completely disregarding what his brother had just said.
"'Scared?'" Ludwig repeated, forgetting to sound angry in his surprise.
"I'm not scared of anything!" Ludwig insisted, recovering.
"Hey, there's no shame in it, Westy. I mean, there aren't too many of us who can say we've had the entire continent of Europe turn on us twice, had to suffer the humiliation of having an empire fall apart and mass recession after losing the most destructive war to date, losing your military and land, electing an insane leader-"
"Alright, I get it, I have every right to be insecure. But that's not what this is about!"
Prussia regarded him skeptically for a moment, the red eyes gazing at him, condescendingly.
"Ludwig, I want you to do something for me," Prussia requested, using the nation's human name for the first time in years.
"Was?" Ludwig asked, irritably, a hand rubbing over his eyes in aggravation.
"First off, close your eyes."
"Was? Warum?" [What? Why?]
"Just do it. Trust me."
Blindly trusting Prussia rarely yielded good results. Nonetheless, from the look on the country's face Ludwig knew he wouldn't be leaving the room until he played along and complied with a sigh.
"Good. Now…, Holy Roman Empire, can you remember back to just before the Thirty Years War?"
Ludwig thought back.
"Remember the day you had to leave Austria's place?"
"Then think back to when you had to say goodbye to poor little Chibitalia. How did you feel?"
"What are you, a therapist?"
"quite yer bitchin' and answer the question."
"This isn't fair!" Ludwig burst out, his eyes opening, to glare at his older brother. "I thought he was a girl!"
"Ignore that. For the purposes of now, that's not relevant. And eyes closed, moron."
"Do you want me to shoot you?"
Prussia just laughed at his indignation.
"Do you want a moment of peace again?"
Ludwig knew from experience that wasn't an empty threat. Grumbling he closed his eyes again and tried to remember how he had felt that day.
"I was upset that she… he wouldn't come with us."
"Ja, und?" [yes, and?]
"I… knew I was going to miss him."
Holy Rome felt his face flush at these embarrassing revelations but continued on anyway.
"I really believed I was in love with him."
"Hmm…," Holy Rome could hear Prussia's boots clacking on the floor as he circled him. Standing there with his eyes shut made him feel impossibly venerable; if he hadn't trusted Prussia with his life, he likely would have already shot him. "Now, Germany, tell me how you feel about Italy… without lying. And for the purposes of now, we'll disregard the fact that you're so shaken up."
"Ignore the fact you don't want to be in a same sex relationship." (A/N: Get it? Shaken up? He's in the closet! It's a Hetaoni refrence, lololololololololol!)
Germany rolled his lidded eyes, shaking his head in annoyance. Did Prussia really believe the only reason he didn't still hold feelings for Italy was because he was a man—in a very lose definition of the word? Of course that wasn't it! Italy was… well he was Italy! Useless, helpless, annoying, clingy Italy! He couldn't go a day without getting himself into trouble and who always had to help clean up the mess? Germany! Ever since Italy had decided they were best friends back during the Great War. Germany had been the idiot to feed a lost puppy that now followed him everywhere! There was no getting away from him! He was always there, with his obnoxious personality and his irritating voice and his unwavering loyalty… and his good if not soft and gullible heart and his caring nature and his sweet smile and loving personality. He was… Italy. Kind, understanding, loving, trusting Italy, whom Germany would go to the ends of the earth for if it was necessary, whom Germany knew would give all he could for him, who screwed up all the time but always had his heart in the right place. Yup. That was Italy. Always had been. … crap.
Prussia laughed at him and Germany had to open his eyes to glare at him as he slapped a hand on the younger nation's back.
"I thought that might be the case."
"Have I ever mentioned I hate you?"
Prussia laughed again.
"Go to bed, West. It's late, you're tired and I think you're gonna have a lot to discuss with your boyfriend/girlfriend/gender neutral chibi-thing in the morning. And I'm exhausted. Gute Nacht."
With one final pat on the shoulder, Prussia turned, making his way towards the staircase that would take him back to his room. He was at the first step when Ludwig called after him.
"If I'm Holy Rome… wouldn't I technically be older than you?"
"My civilization's been around longer.
"But if we're going by people, wouldn't the Italy brothers be older than Spain-"
"Don't question the logic, the writer can't figure it out either."
Ludwig jumped, having half fallen asleep in front of the pond he'd been sitting by for the past hour and a half. He'd tried to go to bed, he really had, but it was impossible. He just hadn't been able to lie there in the dark by himself. After about an hour of restless tossing and turning, he'd given up, pausing only to pull his boots on before heading outside to sit on the banks. He looked up at who had spoken, feeling his face go red when his eyes landed on the one he'd been thinking about. Italy was avoiding his eye, staring pointedly at the grassy knawel upon which Ludwig was sitting.
"I thought I might find you here," Italy continued, clasping and unclasping his hands in front of him.
"J-ja. I come here to think sometimes."
"A lot," Italy corrected. "You always come out here when I do something wrong and you have to help me out."
Ludwig wasn't sure what to say to that. Slowly, Italy raised his eyes to meet his own and Ludwig realized he wasn't the only one who hadn't slept; Italy's eyes were bloodshot and adorned with dark circles. It was hard to imagine the dormophiliac pulling an all-nighter.
"Can we talk?"
Ludwig looked up at him for a moment before nodding.
"I think we should."
Italy nodded, awkwardly taking a seat next to Ludwig and wrapping his arms around his legs. For a moment, there was silence as the two countries stared out across the water, neither willing to turn to the either and start the conversation. Finally, Ludwig sighed, still not willing to look at Italy, but speaking up.
"Please… don't lie to me this time," Italy requested, his voice trembling softly. "I have to know, do you still want me?"
Ludwig tore his gaze from the water, turning to look at his friend. He could not see his face, Italy's head was bowed, his hair falling forward to hide his eyes from view.
"I-I…," Ludwig sighed again, on impulse, moving his hand out to cover the Italians. "Yes…. Yes Italy, I do."
"So what's the problem?"
"Italy… why did you wait until you knew I was Holy Rome? Why not before?"
Slowly, Italy lifted his head to set his gaze on Ludwig.
"I knew Holy Rome wanted me. I never thought Germany did."
Ludwig sighed in understanding.
"Do you still want Holy Rome?"
Italy gave him a look that clearly implied he was insane.
"Holy Rome… Germany… Ludwig, whoever you are, I love you."
Ludwig stared at him for a moment, his face a blank mask, Italy feeling uncomfortable under the unwavering, emotionless gaze. Finally:
"Feliciano," This was the first time Ludwig had ever used Italy's human name. "Boy or girl, 17th century or 20th, I love you."
"I-I…ve!" This was essentially Italy's way of saying, he didn't know what to say, but the look on his face said all Ludwig needed to hear. He could tell from the brightness in his old friend's eyes that Feliciano was trying not to cry as he threw his arms around Ludwig, holding him tightly, his hands bunching into Ludwig's shirt, his face nuzzled into his neck. And Ludwig hugged him back with just as much enthusiasm, laughing at their peculiar situation, his heart bursting in something he hadn't felt in centuries… at least not on the surface.
"Is this the part where we kiss?" Ludwig asked.
Feliciano pulled back, and wiped away the tears that had managed to escape.
"Only if you want to."
"Ich weiß..." [I do] he murmured, his fingers moving gently to the Italian's chin, and lifting his head.
"Allora cosa stai aspettando? [Then what are you waiting for?]"
"Gute Frage." [good question]
And he didn't wait any longer; tilting Feliciano's head back to gain better access, Ludwig leaned forward, lightly brushing his lips over Feliciano's, this time, not having to worry about leaving for God know how long and never seeing him again. It didn't matter that they were in the middle of a war, it didn't matter that they're nations were now technically enemies, it didn't matter they had lived the last thirty years together unaware of the bond they had once had. They were back, together again after three and half centuries of being apart and unaware. And this time, nothing would stand in their way. Their hearts were united, past, present, and future.
A/N: Well, if you'll excuse me, I have to go brush me teeth before I slip into my diabetic coma from all that sweetness and sugar. This was written for my friend's birthday and it turned out a lot cheesier than I thought it would. This is also why it was a lot less professional then I usually make these things; I wanted to get a laugh out of her.
Prussia wasn't kidding when he said the writer couldn't figure out how the ages work. -shrug-
Also, the language other than English I have any knowledge of how to speak is Spanish and I'm not great at that so if I made any mistakes, feel free to point them out and laugh at me. I used Google translate so I'm sure this is riddled with them.
Reviews are my crack!