A/N: The usual warnings. Sorry, everyone.
"Romano," said America, uncharacteristically serious, "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure!" snarled Romano. The voice was, unmistakeably, Romano's, issuing from Lovino's lips. "What do you think I am, a brainless idiot?"
America smiled nervously and held up his hands. "No, Romano. It's just… China has a point."
Lovino's cheeks bloom red. Antonio chuckles nervously, moving to place a placating hand on his best friend's shoulder.
"A… Anyway," Mathew stutters, "It doesn't seem to be a decision either of us can make. Canada's more important than I am… I'm useless to this world. Canada wants to come forward… well… sort of… but he can't. He's stuck."
There were murmurs of agreement around the room. Kiku was nodding, as were Francis and Antonio.
Arthur frowned. He hadn't quite worked out who he was. He was different from before, certainly, but there was no England in his mind, only memories, fears, past thoughts, desires. Desires. What did he want?
"What will happen to Lovi, then?" asked Antonio. He had finally coaxed the Italian back into his seat; Lovino was leaning against his shoulder, eyebrows furrowed with intense frustration.
"Who knows?" said Yao, shrugging. "If it is the case that you are sharing an equal portion of a single brain, it is unlikely that the situation will maintain itself. One will eventually give way to the other."
Ludwig nods. A few strands of blond hair fall into his eyes and Feliciano reaches up, smiling, to brush them away. "That does seem the most logical pathway. You should prepare yourself for that possibility, Lovino."
"Tch," Lovino hissed. "I'm not following any of your shitty advice, kraut. What's to say my brother isn't in the same situation as I am?"
"So what if he is?" sighed Ludwig, at the same time as Feliciano said,
"I'm not. Definitely not, Lovi."
Lovino's face, defined features and straight, sharp nose the exact mirror of his brother's, contorts into an expression somewhere between fury and grief. He tells himself that he couldn't care less – that would be stupid; Feliciano wasn't that fucking important – but it's hard when his insides feel as though they're being hacked apart with gardening shears.
He can think of a hundred things he wants to say, to spit into his double's smiling face, but all he can manage is, "You're not?"
"My name is Italia. Italia Veneziano. Feliciano Vargas died before I could meet him."
"Just like me!" cries America, pumping a fist in the air. Arthur whacks him upside the head. No one is paying them any attention.
"Vene," murmurs Romano. His eyes are glassy. "You… No, you killed… You killed my brother. Murderer."
If it weren't for Antonio's hand on his shoulder, larger and warmer than his own, he feels he would sink into the earth and crumble.
"No!" cries Italy, amber eyes widening. "I am your brother, Romano! I'm still your brother, Lovino, only different."
"Different?! You killed him-"
"It wasn't my fault! I need to be here, on this earth."
"Right," scoffs Lovino, "North Italy's more important than some worthless human, right?"
Italy shakes his head back and forth, so fast that his auburn hair flies about his face, curl bobbing. "You know why I'm here, Romano, don't be mean. I'm still waiting."
"Waiting for what? Your period? I've told you before, Veneziano…"
"For him," interrupts Francis, frowning. "He hasn't returned yet, has he?" And never will, he adds silently, or else he might have, though Vene hadn't noticed.
Ludwig coughs uncomfortably. "I don't know if this has happened to anyone else," he says, attempting to divert the conversation into safer harbours. "I'm Ludwig. I always have been. We agreed that it would be best if Germany disappeared."
The room fell silent, all at a loss for words, all for different reasons. Arthur wondered if he should also speak up, but he wasn't sure if England had gone; after all, England had taken over just a moment ago.
"Do you still have his memories?" inquired Kiku, at last. "His scars?"
"Everything," affirmed Ludwig. He detached his eyes from Feliciano's hair, surveyed the room, finally spotting Francis. After Prussia, Francis was next best. "And more."
"And more?" Francis murmured. His accent had thickened and broadened, as it had been in the old days, back then. "Are you sure, Ludwig?"
Ludwig nodded, and looked back down at Italy. He had gone to sleep on Ludwig's arm, slight shoulders rising and falling, rising and falling. "Yes. I am certain."
"We will talk later, before any more happens," said Francis, simply, and Ludwig nodded again. He wasn't a rash person; Vene had waited a long time, Ludwig could wait as well.
"Right," said America. New World nations, thought Francis, amusedly. "The second matter… what is the second matter?"
"Idiot," snapped England. "Of course, we're all wondering why so many of us are all conveniently here, at the same British multicultural high school in the same dull little town."
"Again, simple," said Yao, sounding bored. "Obviously, we are here because the nature of the world is to be paralleled by nations."
"Honestly, America," said Arthur. "He said that the world needs nations. The quickest way by which to draw us all together would be through a school, correct?"
"Yes," said Ludwig, "But our bodies will begin to age to match our nations. In a month, we will no longer pass as students, except at a university."
"Hah," snapped Romano, suddenly. "That doesn't matter, potato-head, does it? As if we'll still be here in a month's time."
"Where else will we be?" murmured Spain. His fingers brushed Lovino's hair and Lovino slapped them away as if stung.
"Back in our rightful places, of course! Our job is diplomacy, so we're going to do it."
"Even those who remain human?" said Yao, doubtfully.
'Even us," said Ludwig, firmly. "I may be Ludwig, but I am still Germany."
"This stuff is way too confusing," moaned America. "Let's meet here again tomorrow, alright? Same time."
Even Ludwig didn't protest when everyone else groaned in agreement.
Italy tugged on his arm.
"Germany… Ludwig?" He looked up with bleary eyes. "Are you coming to Biology?"
"You go to Biology," directed Ludwig, helping him gently to his feet. "I need to discuss something with Francis."
Italy frowned, but said, "Alright! Have fun~" and left, cheerfully enough.
"I don't care what anyone says," said Lovino, defiantly, "I'm ditching. Coming, Spagna?"
Antonio looked conflicted, but nodded.
The pair left the room, and Ludwig and Francis were left alone.
"So," said Francis heavily, sitting down on Lovino's vacated bench. He looked around at the wood-panelled walls, up at the gym lockers. A pair of tatty sneakers was poking out of its cubby. "Disgusting! Who cleans this place? I think the school is merely too cheap to hire someone… typical of England, isn't it?"
"I know," interrupted Ludwig.
Francis sighed. He leaned his head back against the wall and rubbed at his ears, as though some amount of rubbing would stop him from hearing the other man's words.
"I know everything," Ludwig confirmed. "I would have gone to Austria, my brother, but they aren't here."
"No, no, it's alright. I had an idea it would come to this, anyway." Looking away delicately, picking the undersides of his nails with a smooth thumbnail, Francis said, "I apologise. It was my fault. The Holy Roman Empire would never have lasted anyway, but, if it's any consolation…"
"I was reckless," said Ludwig. "It won't happen again."
"Funny," mused Francis, "that you are already referring to yourself by your nation name. Are you sure you are not Germany?"
"The old Germany is gone," said Ludwig. "I possess all of his memories, scars and duties, but he is gone."
"You do seem very similar," sighed Francis. "I wonder how Vene will take it."
"Germany… he lo… lov… loved Veneziano, just as I…" his voice trailed off into a mumble.
"Oh? Who is it, Ludwig?" Francis' foreign tongue tripped across the d, accented the i. Ludwig flushed dully.
"Feliciano," he grunted. "But that doesn't matter. Feliciano is dead."
Italy had a stronger will to live.
"Ah," said Francis, frowning. "That. Being Francis, having France inside my head, I know that Vene and Feli were very similar people. You could call their personalities identical, though Vene had more experience with sadness. I also know that Feli loved you, though not as much as North Italy had loved Germany."
"Almost as much?"
Francis smiled, almost sadly, and said, "Nations, living for as long as they do, seem to have a far greater capacity for emotions than you humans do. I suppose that I cannot call you human anymore. However, we always seem to forget that nations are just as transient as humans are. For us, losing the one we love to war or dissolution is more pain than it seems possible to bear."
Suddenly, Ludwig thought of Prussia, flag billowing, burning. The fear, the brutal pain. Prussia had been too strong. Instead of dissolving, he had changed. Too awesome to die, he had later boasted, but Germany had known how much he had suffered to become East, to occupy the German nation with him, and Germany had been willing; Germany couldn't lose his brother.
That was his nation part. To the human, Ludwig, it seemed almost impossible. More feelings – things he wasn't good with, things his brain hadn't been created to process – were creeping in, one by one, and then that feeling. The tingling, the nervousness, embarrassment, intense shame. Ludwig tried to clamp down on them, but it was impossible.
"Stuck, are you?" laughed France, not Francis. "It will stay like this, you know. Though you are Ludwig, you are now also a nation. You must bear its weight."
"But I… I…" For the first time in his twelve year schooling career, Ludwig felt out of his depth. There was no basic formula to handle emotion after all. He felt ridiculous for even thinking it.
"You don't know how to feel?" finished France. "Feel the way you wish to feel, otherwise it won't be genuine when you tell him, will it?"
"Tell him what?" Ludwig exploded, burying his head in his hands. "He isn't Feli anymore, he's someone else. He's someone that Germany loved."
"He most probably feels the same way," said Francis. "He has lost Germany, and after Holy Rome, he was the only one Vene trusted completely."
Trusted completely. Germany had known. Ludwig was Germany. How did he feel?
"When Vene felt really sad, he would act," said Francis. "Feli was the same."
Was. Used to be.
But his sadness at Feli's leaving in comparison to his happiness that Veneziano was safe was like comparing the Earth to the Universe. Ludwig wondered whether he should feel guilty. Instead, he felt relief.
A/N: The love was difficult to write realistically. Please tell me how I did.