Disclaimer: HetaOni, Hetalia, etc are owned by other people who are not me.
Author's note: Sorry this took so long. Between vacation, school starting, and reading Homestuck I really haven't had much free time. But here's some cool news: Chiriko Masashi on DA has done a manga adaptation of the first chapter! It's utterly amazing. She put her own spin on some stuff and I honestly think it's better than what I originally wrote. I'm adding a link in my profile.
"So I'm a mistake," Germany surmised. "A bandage to hold the fabric of reality together until you come back."
Holy Rome shook his head.
"It's not like that at all."
"Then what is it like?" Germany asked.
"You're the person I was supposed to become," Holy Rome told him. "For all intents and purposes, you are me. I'm really nothing more than a ghost. A dream."
Germany thought it over. There was one thing he still wanted to ask.
"You are…very important to Italy," Germany said carefully.
Holy Rome nodded.
"That's right," he confirmed. "And Italy means more to me than my own life."
"You were the one he spoke of, when he said his first love was a boy?"
"His first love," Holy Rome repeated. "Did he really say that?"
Holy Rome smiled grimly.
"I lied to him," he said.
"I promised he would see me again," Holy Rome said. "He doesn't understand. Doesn't realize I'm already dead."
"He'll be heartbroken," Germany warned. "He never truly got over losing you the first time."
"I know," Holy Rome sighed. "I hated making another promise I couldn't keep. But he needed to live. It's for the best in the end. Besides, I suppose I will see him again, in some way."
"What do you mean?"
"You are me. You understand that, right? That means I can give you my memories. You haven't been able to remember the past loops right?"
"How did you know about that?"
"I took those memories. It was for your protection, although you can't understand. You will, though."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm just a ghost, remember? I want to end this cursed half-existence. So I'm going to make things right."
"What are you going to do?" Germany asked.
He was already quite certain what the answer would be, but he wanted to hear it from Holy Rome.
"I'm going to give you my memories. It should be enough to make things right. Time is weaker here."
"So this will change the past? And I'll be you?"
"So this is it?" Japan asked.
"England's magic is in here," he confirmed. "At least, that's my guess. There was one loop where England came in here and he was very powerful after that."
His smile slipped slightly at the memory of how that loop had ended. He had trained himself not to react to thoughts of past loops, but a few memories were too strong to endure without any reaction.
"Come on then! We'll recover England's magic and then we'll make it out of here alive this time! The awesome me guarantees it!"
It was easy to tell that Prussia's confidence was simply a disguise to hide his fears, but it was still reassuring. As long as his friends still had hope, Italy could have some too. This time loop was different. They knew what they were facing. They were strong. He wasn't alone anymore. It might, just might, be enough.
He hoped so.
"Italy-kun, are you feeling okay?" Japan asked.
Italy looked over at him and brightened his smile a bit. It wouldn't do to worry him.
"I'm fine," he said. "Just remembering something."
The pensive look that came onto his companions' faces showed that they had a pretty good idea of what that 'something' was. Italy didn't elaborate. They didn't need to know. Prussia might even remember.
"Let's go get England's magic," he said.
Japan and Prussia shared a look, but didn't push him for details, a fact for which Italy was grateful.
He opened the door and stepped inside. Japan and Prussia were close behind him.
"What's that?" Prussia asked.
Italy studied the strange…thing…in the center of the room.
"It resembles one of the mythical creatures from England-san's legends," Japan observed.
"But England's fairies aren't real," Prussia insisted.
"Maybe we just couldn't see them before," Italy remarked.
He approached the creature. It –no, She- resembled a dainty, miniscule girl in a pink dress, glowing with a strange light.
"Greetings," she whispered, her words like honey.
"You're one of England's fairies," Italy guessed.
She laughed and the sound reverberated like tiny bells.
"It would be better to say that England is ours," she replied. "We've watched and protected him since his creation. But he has never owned us."
"What's so funny?" Japan asked.
"West always said that fairies were real," Prussia revealed. "It was his one impracticality. I never expected to see him proved right."
"Germany has always been able to see us," the fairy remarked.
Italy gasped. Germany could see fairies?! Why had he never said anything?! He would have loved to see fairies, back before all of this happened. Back when a fairy was more than an anomaly in the time loop that could make the difference between life and death.
"What makes West so special?" Prussia asked.
The fairy leaned in, as if to reveal a great secret.
"He's always believed," she revealed. "There were once others who saw us, even you Prussia, but they lost belief and thus no longer could."
Italy tried to remember a time when he'd seen fairies, but his memories from before the mansion were already so fuzzy.
"Please tell me it's not that simple and cheesy," Prussia groaned.
His hair briefly turned a rather attractive shade of pink.
"There's nothing cheesy about it," the fairy insisted.
"So we all believe in magic now?" Japan remarked.
"You've seen proof," she replied.
"I guess we have," Japan admitted.
"Why are you here?" Italy asked, still vaguely unsettled by the fairy's presence.
"To help England, of course," she said, as if it were obvious.
"What's one little fairy going to do?" Prussia wondered.
"He's weak." The fairy remarked. "He overuses his magic too easily. I can give him more power. I can make him unstoppable."
Italy visibly winced that time.
"What's wrong?" Japan asked.
"He said that. Last time. He said he was unstoppable. He wasn't."
Those last two words were almost whispered.
Author's Note II: Why can Germany see fairies? Can anyone figure it out? It's not really HetaOni related. It's a headcanon I've had for a while that worked rather nicely here.
Also, would any of my lovely readers be interested in drawing a cover image for this story? I feel like it should have one, but I don't trust my art skills.