Title: Anarchy of Silence
Author: Zalia Chimera
Warnings: Heavy bondage, D/s
Many thanks to my wonderful Beta readers.
Summary: Austria's quiet day is interrupted by a visit from Prussia, who needs more than just a friendly ear.
The door slams.
Austria looks up from the bread dough that he is kneading, his hands sticky with it and covered in flour, and sighs. Before he can make it to the sink to wash his hands he hears another bang, as though someone has slammed their hands against the door. Ah, Prussia. Who else? He does hope that he's not hit it hard enough to splinter the wood this time. For a Nation with no real power any more, he certainly goes out of his way to prove his physical strength.
He washes his hands carefully beneath the tap and dries them with a dishcloth which he hangs over the handle of the oven door. Slowly, he counts to ten.
Prussia bursts in exactly on time, his booted feet loud on the marble floor. Austria purses his lips at the sight. Prussia matches his disapproving expression with a grin, wild and a little mad and Austria can see how brittle it is, all frayed around the edges.
"Well?" Prussia says, going to lean against the marble counter. He's trying to look casual, and it might convince anyone else. "Not going to get out the tea and cake for us? Some host."
Austria sniffs, pushing his glasses back up his nose with one finger. "You are not an invited guest. I don't owe you any hospitality."
"Awww, c'mon Specs," Prussia says, in that tone of voice which always manages to grate right along Austria's spine. "Not very gentlemanly of you."
Austria quirks one eyebrow at him, a delicate sneer on his lips as he reaches over to start clearing away his baking equipment. "I hardly feel any need to be a gentleman towards an uncouth interloper such as yourself." He refrains from rolling his eyes as he dumps the dirty bowls into the sink. "When have you ever cared about gentlemanly behaviour, anyway?" he replies disdainfully. Prussia has always been a brute, dedicated to war and little else. Nothing of the finer points of etiquette. As Austria turns, he sees the scowl that flits briefly across Prussia's face, gone without a trace a second later as though it had never been.
"Never wanted to be one," Prussia sneers as he reaches over the counter towards the dough. "Why would I want to be a gentleman, obsessed with the proper way to set out a cake stand or some crap like that." He tears off a chunk and Austria winces as he shoves it into his mouth. "Maybe if you'd spent less time on stuff like this, you would've been better at war."
"Ah yes, how is the Prussian military these days? They've been a bit quiet as of late."
Cruel, but neither of them is a stranger to cruelty, especially not when directed at each other. He sees Prussia blanch before the other nation storms out of the room without a word, another chunk of bread dough in his hand. Austria sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose tiredly, then follows Prussia out. He doesn't trust him in one of these moods.
He's left a trail of dried mud across the wooden floor, flecks of it everywhere leading to the music room. Austria grits his teeth, even that small annoyance grating on his nerves. An ear piercing screech comes from the music room, the sound of an instrument being mangled in the most unholy of ways. He winces when it repeats, a string of what he can hardly bear to call notes, even in charity.
When he enters, Prussia has a flute half dismantled in his hands and is peering into it with a murderous expression on his face. "Stupid piece of shit," Austria hears him mutter, the venom in his voice surprising even to him.
"Attempting culture?" Austria asks, his tone making clear exactly how preposterous he finds the very idea of it.
Prussia rounds on him, brandishing the pieces of the flute like a weapon, but even Prussia cannot make it look intimidating, not when Austria can see the dark circles beneath his eyes and the bitterness in his snarl. "Specs! I thought you took pride in music! This is a fucking useles-"
"Maybe it's more the skill of the player," Austria replied haughtily. "My instruments are certainly in the finest condition."
The glare that he receives in response is vicious. Prussia jams the pieces of the flute together angrily, as though the instrument is an uncouth weapon of war. He raises it to his lips and the first rough note sends a grating shudder down Austria's spine.
"I cannot stand to hear you butcher that instrument further. I have work to do. Close the door when you leave."
Prussia doesn't acknowledge him, and the painful notes follow Austria as he leaves.
He doesn't go far, just to the study next door where he'll be able to hear anything more suspicious than bad playing, He has a stack of paperwork on his desk to get through. Nothing of vital importance (nothing that he's asked to do by his government is important any more. Hasn't been for years), but he prides himself on getting it done in a timely manner. Besides, it looks terribly untidy on his desk.
He spares an almost fond thought for the days when his work was of value to his people. The days of Empire and armies. Ah, but that is hardly in vogue these days, is it? Never let it be said that Austria does not keep up with the times.
He opens up his laptop and sets to work, Prussia's discordant and unlovely melody harsh in his ears.
He must manage to tune out the noise at some point, because when he looks up from the third (fourth?) report, he can still hear Prussia playing. A frown twists his lips at the racket. For all his jibes to the contrary, Prussia is a skilled flautist and even when angry beyond all reason, his playing normally gentles and smooths as he calms down.
This time though...
Something clicks in Austria's mind, and he sighs, removing his glasses and burying his face in his hands for a moment. As if on cue, the horrible music ends with a screech and Prussia's snarling. Now that Austria knows what he is listening for, he can hear the frustration in his voice.
The door slams and Austria counts one two three one two threea steel toed waltz. The door bursts open, slamming back against the wall as Prussia steps in, vicious energy making the study seem suddenly smaller.
"Done already?" Austria says dryly, turning back to his computer as Prussia throws himself into the high backed chair in the corner of the room. Austria watches him for a moment, the way his shoulders hunch when he thinks that no-one is looking, a far cry from his normally proud stance.
Austria starts typing again. Prussia taps along with the strokes of the keys, just off-beat and maddening. "Stop that," Austria snaps, shooting the other Nation a glare.
Prussia narrows his eyes and his fingers still, just for a moment, before starting again double time.
"You are being intolerable," Austria says with a very undignified growl, veneer of civility chipping away in the face of Prussia's actions.
"So do something about it," Prussia says, a cocky smirk on his lips.
Austria sighs in irritation and waves a hand dismissively. "You're hardly worth the time and effort it would take," he says.
Prussia snorts and goes back to tapping his fingers against the leather of the chain, making each sound louder.
"Childish," Austria mutters, loud enough to be heard, and harsh enough to give Prussia a push in the right direction. It always has to be a fight with him. He has to be pushed and pushed to breaking point, to Austria'sbreaking point, instead of making it easy for himself.
Ah, but if he made it easy, he wouldn't need this. He wouldn't be Prussia.
He's halfway through the next report when the tapping stops abruptly and Prussia stands. For a moment, Austria almost believes that it might be over, that he's worn himself to the end of his anger.
He starts pacing instead.
The study is large, but it still only takes Prussia six paces to cross it and every move is loud; boots across the wooden floor, and he's muttering angrily under his breath, a constant buzz that drills straight into Austria's skull. He can make out a few damning words about Germany and politics and there are curses in at least three languages, but most of it is garbled into near incomprehensibility.
Austria continues typing, letting Prussia rage and pace and hoping that in a minute he will settle. Maybe.
That moment never comes.
He can feel the tension rolling off Prussia, winding tighter and tighter, sees Prussia's fingers curl into his hair, tugging sharply, white strands and skin and dabs of blood coming away in his hand and...
It is a tone which has commanded armies and crushed opposition. He had not been a power for nothing, no matter what others might say.
Prussia's body jerks, spine snapping bolt upright, and he looks warily at Austria, red eyes wide and uncertain and so desperate that it makes Austria's heart ache. It shouldn't be there. A look like that should never be there.
Austria reaches into his pocket and pulls out his gloves, slick black leather, a well worn pair. They fasten around his wrists and he catches the way that Prussia stares, tongue poking out between his teeth.
"Sit down," he says in clipped tones, a signal that they both know well. Prussia shudders and sinks to his knees, palms resting flat on his thighs. Austria regards him for a long moment. Prussia's gaze is fixed, his back military straight, but he fidgets, shifting his weight from leg to leg, fingers spasming as he fights to keep himself still.
It's as much of an insight to Prussia's state of mind as Austria needs. He takes a breath, forcing his own mind into that calm collected state, pushing away the petty frustrations of the day.
"Stay," he says, and turns to collect his files and laptop, knowing that Prussia will not move without permission. He needs this, and he knows Austria's rules.
"Take these," Austria says shortly, and presses the papers and computer into Prussia's arms when the other Nation stands. Prussia doesn't protest, and just curls his hands protectively around them.
Austria lets his fingers linger for a moment against the back of Prussia's hand, a gesture half reassuring, half questioning. Prussia meets his gaze for a second, just a second, but it tells Austria enough.
"Very well," he says, "follow me."
His house is no longer the grand mansion that it had once been; he certainly won't be hosting any grand balls in the near future, but the walk to his bedroom seems impossibly long with Prussia behind him, unsettlingly silent. It's like being trailed by a ghost.
The bedroom is spacious, or he wouldn't be able to do this. Prussia settles as soon as Austria gestures, perching on the edge of the bed, Austria's things set neatly next to him.
There's a section in his wardrobe that he keeps under lock and key; even Hungary has never been allowed to see what's inside. Its contents are between himself and Prussia, and it is one trust that he will not break, no matter what else passes between them.
"Do I need to restrain you?" he asks quietly as he pulls open the door.
"Just get on with it," Prussia snarls and Austria turns, whip fast, grabbing Prussia's chin hard between his fingers and forcing his head up to meet his eyes.
"I do not expect anything from you for doing this except respect. Is that too much to ask?" He squeezes for a moment, sees Prussia wince in pain before growling and giving a tiny nod. Austria releases him and Prussia reaches up to rub at his jaw. He's being entirely overly dramatic. It won't even bruise.
Austria just regards him coldly for a moment before speaking. "Do I need to restrain you?"
"Yes, please," Prussia replies this time, his voice and expression subdued.
Austria gives an approving nod and returns to rummaging in the wardrobe for what he needs. The bloody hanks of hair are worrying, but it gives him an idea of what he needs at least, and finally comes up with the ideal solution.
The cage is made from heavy steel, matte black and ominous as he assembles it in the corner of the room, well away from any other furniture. It's large enough for one person to sit inside, or kneel, never to stand.
He can feel Prussia's eyes on him as he works, the emotions practically curling off him. But it isn't anticipation or fear that he sees when he glances back at Prussia and beckons him over, but sheer relief and bright gratitude. It's almost painful to see.
He beckons him over with a crooked finger and Prussia obeys, then sinks to his knees, leaning the side of his face against the cool metal of the cage with an expression that is near reverent.
"If I put you in, it will be until I decide otherwise," Austria says, that same commanding tone giving his voice power. "You can still go home."
Prussia's gaze skitters away at the suggestion, and he shakes his head, jaw set and entirely stubborn. "No. I want this." I need thisremains unsaid, but Austria has become adept at reading between the lines.
"Very well," Austria says sharply, and there is no going back now. Besides, he can see the way that Prussia still fidgets, never stilling for one moment.
He binds Prussia's hands first, thick heavy mitts which clasp his fingers into an immobile fist. He is not normally so thorough, but he's worried, just a little. Prussia is tenacious and dangerous, even to himself when he is like this, so yes, this is safer. He runs his hand through Prussia's hair when he feels the shudder as the buckles tighten, as much reassurance as he can offer.
It will be difficult, terribly so, but isn't that what he comes to Austria for? Certainly not for empty words of comfort.
He nudges Prussia's head up with a finger beneath his chin, searches his eyes for a moment before reaching for the hood. Prussia's eyes widen at the sight of the heavy leather, but he closes them quickly, allowing Austria to slide the hood over his head, covering the white hair and loud mouth, to fasten at his throat.
He knows that Prussia cannot see or hear him, and slides a finger through the opening at his mouth, feeling the press of Prussia's tongue against his gloved finger.
He waits a moment, hand stroking over the taut knots of Prussia's shoulders, feeling the tremble there, making sure that he really is comfortable with this. The trembling stops after a few long moments, and he bends Prussia down, nudging him into the cage on his knees. He squeezes his shoulder once and then locks the door with a heavy padlock that will clang if Prussia nudges it, even with his bound hands.
He lets out a heavy huff of breath once the cage is locked, his own shoulders slumping. It is an odd feeling this; he could do anything while Prussia is like this, anything at all. Could leave him there while he goes to another part of the house, or even outside, and no-one will know about it. Prussia would never tell.
In his darkest moments, he thinks about doing more, forcing things on Prussia, humiliating degrading things until he begs for mercy from the one that he had mocked for centuries. Make him bleed and watch him writhe.
He goes over to the bed and plugs in his laptop and pulls out the paper he had been working on when Prussia had interrupted.
Across the room, Prussia is shifting uncomfortably in the cage, the buckles of the mitts grating against the bars as he tries to find a comfortable position.
It's easier to focus on his work now, without the other Nation making an unholy noise or threatening to interrupt at every opportunity, and he works through the papers at a steady pace, glancing up at Prussia every so often.
Prussia takes longer than normal to settle, and for the first time, Austria permits himself to wonder what had occurred to drive him to such a state. These visits, they had been frequent when Germany was newly unified, with Prussia driving him to greater and greater lengths until he had almost snapped himself. But he's been calmer recently, more stable and settled, enough that it worries him to see Prussia like this.
Something with his brother perhaps? There had been a meeting today, all of this trouble with Greece.
He sighs, running a hand across his face tiredly and focussing once more on his work.
He keeps shooting little glances over towards the cage, keeping an eye on Prussia as he settles himself and he can see the moment when Prussia finally begins to relax, the tension draining from his body as he curls up on the floor of the cage.
It must be nice, Austria thinks sometimes, to be able to relax with that thing blocking all sight and sound. The idea fills him with something akin to dread.
He continues working for a while longer, nearly an hour by his reckoning, until Prussia's body has gone limp and comfortable, and then he sets his laptop aside and crosses to the cage. It opens without a sound, and he taps Prussia's shoulder lightly so as not to startle him before he takes the hood off.
Prussia's hair is tousled by the leather, and his eyes are hazy and distant as he offers Austria a faint smile. Austria wishes that he knew what went on in his head during these times, but it's obvious that he finds something in it. He keeps coming back, letting Austria strip him of everything until that terrible itch has left his body.
He rubs the back of Prussia's neck gently, checking him over for signs of stress, but his body is pliant beneath Austria's hands. "You've interrupted me," he says gently, no malice in the words. "I need to finish my work."
Prussia hums softly in response and does not move from his place as Austria locks him in the cage once more. He returns to the bed and his work, and the eyes watching him this time lack the fierce desperation of earlier.
The work is more a mask than anything, another gauge of Prussia's state of mind. He isn't moving now, Austria notes, he remains stock still except for the occasional shift to avoid cramps; no fidgeting or muttering, no restless angry energy.
He sets the final report aside, an air of finality to the motion, and fixes his gaze on the other Nation. He looks half asleep, and Austria doesn't doubt that he'll have a companion tonight. He will insist on it in fact. He'd hate to see his work gone to waste if he sends Prussia back too soon.
"Come," he says, once the cage is open, and Prussia crawls to him, to his hand, sitting back on his haunches.
The mitts are removed quickly, Austria's fingers digging into his wrists to massage away the stiffness. Prussia lets him without complaint and that tells him enough.
"What happened today?"
Austria is sitting in his favourite chair, with Prussia on the floor at his feet, pressed comfortably up against his leg and half asleep if the way he allows Austria to stroke his hair is any indication.
Prussia turns his gaze upwards, giving him a half lidded look, and he sighs, scowling a little in familiar irritation. "West," he says, the bitterness not quite hidden beneath the annoyance.
"I had wondered," Austria replies, lips thinning at the news. Germany who should know better than anyone how his brother's mind works.
"He's stressed, alright," Prussia says sharply, glaring at him. "This crap with the economy. Can't blame him."
Austria smiles, the one that he knows Prussia finds infuriating. "You were cursing his very existence only a few hours ago."
"Yeah well, we all get pissed off. Just needed to blow off some steam."
Austria bites his tongue. No matter how much he sometimes wants to use what happens between them as fuel for insults and teasing, he can never bring himself to do it. He can't betray Prussia's grudging trust, even to see the shattered look on his face.
Prussia shifts and for a moment, Austria prepares himself to have to break Prussia down once more, but he only leans more heavily against Austria's leg, closing his eyes tiredly. "I thought he needed a break but I guess he didn't see it that way."
"I can't imagine why," Austria says dryly. Prussia's methods of distracting Ludwig, no matter how well meaning, are rarely less than infuriating.
His response is a nudge to the thigh by Prussia's elbow, but the other Nation sobers quickly, gaze falling, reluctant to speak.
"What did he say?" Austria prompts quietly, flicking through the pages of his book as though it is some absent inquiry about the weather perhaps.
Prussia is silent for a long moment, and Austria waits, knowing that it is coming. Pushing now will just make him clam up and the last thing that they need is for Prussia to internalise whatever comment was made, not again.
"He told me to get back behind the damn wall," Prussia says finally, his voice small and quiet.
Even Austria cannot hold back a hiss of breath at the cutting words and... what had Ludwig been thinking?
Prussia slumps back against the chair, hiding his face against Austria's thigh and allowing Austria to stroke his hair until he relaxes again.
He cannot solve the problems between the brothers. The right to interfere between them was taken away from him long ago. But he offers what he can, lets Prussia take what he needs.
"I'm going to bed," he says, fingers grazing the shell of Prussia's ear before he stands.
Prussia stares at him. "You'd better make me up a bed then. It's too late to be catching the train back to Berlin."
Austria huffs and gives him a sour look. "You disappear quickly enough when I ask for help with the cleaning though. There's always a train on hand then. I'm not wasting my time setting up a guest room."
"The fuck would I stick around to help you clean?" Prussia mutters and follows Austria as he climbs the stairs. He complains the entire way, but there's a difference somehow. It's the usual everyday grousing that Prussia has used every day since Austria has known him, as familiar as breathing.
"God, you are such an old lady, Specs," he says as Austria changes into his nightgown. Prussia himself sprawls nude on one side of Austria's bed. He would have ended up there even if Austria had wanted to make him a bed up. Of course he refuses to wear anything of Austria's to sleep in. Never mind that no-one will see it.
"At least I have some sense of decency," Austria says with a long suffering sigh. It is an oldargument. "Do you have no shame?"
"The only person who finds it indecent is someone with a filthy mind," Prussia replies with a lascivious smile.
"You are entirely infuriating. Next time I'll throw you out, no matter how late it is." He throws back the covers and watches as Prussia squirms underneath them, taking up at least a third more of the bed than is strictly necessary.
"Not very hospitable are you? You'll ruin your reputation," Prussia replies as Austria climbs in, staying firmly on his own side.
"I have enough reputation built up to counteract one such act." He turns off the light and closes his eyes, a firm signal that he knows will be ignored.
Prussia shifts beside him, moving closer and Austria opens one eye to peer at him in the darkness of the room. "Can't you stay still?" he asks.
"You're stealing the covers," Prussia mutters, even as he holds out his hands, wrists crossed in a clear request that he cannot voice.
Austria makes an exaggerated sigh and pushes the covers off before sliding out of bed and padding over to the cupboard, returning with a length of soft silken rope which he uses to deftly tie Prussia's wrists together, then loops the trailing end around one of the bedposts.
"Go to sleep," Austria says, ignoring the grateful look that Prussia definitely doesn't give him, and turns onto his side, pulling the covers around himself again.
Beside him, he can hear Prussia's breathing as it evens out into sleep, and come morning he'll complain about his snoring.