So I'm currently in love with Historical!Hetalia. I go through obsessions with various periods of history and the event I'm teaching myself about at the moment is the Vietnam War, so I just had to write this. ^_^ I had to make up a few characters and take some creative liberties, but I've tried to keep it as historically correct as I can. If you have any suggestions or critique then please let me know; I'm doing my best to make it accurate but I recognise that I'm no expert.
Consider it disclaimed.
"War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
France backed up as fast as he could, stumbling over the dense undergrowth, until the stiff bark of a tree stopped his retreat. His fingers clutched instinctively around the low-hanging branches but he wouldn't let it look like he was holding himself up. Despite his humiliating defeat and serious injuries, Francais still had enough pride to stay on his feet.
He looked up into the eyes of the sisters advancing towards him, both with guns aimed directly at him, and smiled weakly. They were both identical; same pretty faces, same long dark hair, same pink lotus flowers tucked behind their ears. The only difference between the two were their expressions. One was determined, angry, even ruthless. That was the face of someone who had been wronged and would not rest until they had their revenge. It would've been remarkably beautiful if it wasn't for the cold fury blazing behind the eyes. The other face, however, was almost apologetic, as though it really didn't want to hurt him and the whole war business was just a dreadful misunderstanding. As though it would prefer to exchange apologies and leave you alone, but the situation was forcing it to do something it really rather wouldn't and it hoped you understood. The warpaint and gun looked strangely incongruent with a face like that.
"Mes fleurs, can we not talk about this?" he asked, trying to keep the fear out of his voice as they stepped closer, blocking his escape. "There is no reason to fight, oui?"
"You should've thought about that before you invaded us," growled one of the sisters, the hard one. Northern Indochina. He remembered when she used to work for him; she had been much less submissive than her sister. Every order was a battle and she made no secret of her distaste for working for him. She had spirit, and he'd always admired that in her, even when it meant biting retorts or swift kicks to areas that could do without them.
"But I wanted to see you again, mes fleurs," he said, attempting another smile.
"Stop calling us that!" That was the other twin, the softer, kinder one. Southern Indochina. She was certainly more pleasant company than her sister, but she lacked that fire that seemed to drive her northern counterpart. "We aren't your flowers any more."
"Get out of our country."
"Don't be so hasty, we can negotia-"
"This is not open to negotiation!" They were right in front of him now, their guns inches from him. Northern Indochina - or North Vietnam, as she called herself - lifted her gun and aimed it directly at his chest. He flinched, pressing himself back against the tree, squeezing his eyes shut and whispering to himself in rapid French. This was all wrong. This was not supposed to happen. He was supposed to perish on French soil, preferrably a long time in the future and defending his country like a hero, not in some botched battle for a faraway land. His entire body tensed, preparing for the inevitable bullet.
"Leave now and I might not shoot you."
France cracked one eye open. "Excusez-moi?"
"I said leave!" North Vietnam's finger tightened on the trigger. France didn't hesitate - he threw himself away from the tree trunk, away from the sisters, and crashed through the undergrowth as fast as his legs could carry him. No shots fired behind him and no searing pains cut through his back; they were letting him retreat. He would live. He would be humiliated and weakened - defeated by a couple of girls. Angleterre will never let me live this down - but he would get out of this alive.
Branches and vines whipped at his face and body as he ran, but he never once looked back.
The two sisters watched him go, crashing clumsily through the jungle like the foreigner he was. The foreigner that had dominated their land for so long, imposed his culture on them and destroyed their traditions, forced them to work for him and do his bidding. The foreigner that was finally gone. As he disappeared into the forest and the noise died away, the sense of what they'd accomplished began to wash over them. They had done it. They, two sisters from a small, weak country with nothing but determination and imported guns, had finally regained their independence.
Two identical smiles broke out over their faces at the same time, and for once they looked exactly the same.
"We're free," said North Vietnam quietly, testing the word on her tongue as though giving herself time to get used to the taste of it. "South, we're free!"
And, just like that, the stunned silence was broken. The two sisters cheered, hugging each other as their guns lay forgotten in the undergrowth. All this fighting and dying had been worth it; no-one would ever tell them what to do again. It would be just them again, no-one to order them around or take control of their affairs. They could do whatever they wanted, stand on their own, finally regain their pride.
As the sun set over the forest that day, both North and South Vietnam understood that it wasn't just the daylight that was ending. The era in which they'd been oppressed, trodden on, forced to serve against their will, was over. When the sun came up, it would be the dawn of a new, peaceful and united Vietnam.
The sisters watched the sunset from their porch, wearing brightly coloured Ao Dai instead of their military uniforms in celebration of their newfound independence. Their porch. That thought was still strange to South Vietnam. It had been so long since she could legitimately call it their porch. France's porch, Japan's porch, but now truly, wholly theirs. The thought warmed her; now it was really just her and her sister again, as it was always meant to be.
"South." North Vietnam was looking at her now, the joy on her face replaced with seriousness. "Now that we're our own country again, we need to make some decisions. We can't just rely on France like we did before."
"Right," nodded South Vietnam. North was right, of course. Celebration was all well and good, but they had a country to run.
"China's been telling me all about this new system of government he and Russia have been using," continued North. "He was really enthusiastic about it. It sounds good, actually. I think it might work for us as well."
"Really? What's it called?"
"Communism. As in 'community'. Everyone's equal, see? Everyone gets the same. There's no poverty and no-one is born into money they don't deserve."
The sun had set now. South Vietnam frowned slightly and stared up at the stars, reluctant to meet her sister's eyes. Communism. America had told her about that and he'd been just as enthusiastic as China, but for all the opposite reasons. "I'm not sure, North. I don't think communism sounds like a good idea."
"Why not? What's wrong with it?"
"It just seems... I don't know, unfair."
"What do you mean, unfair?" North's voice had an edge of steel to it now. "No, you don't understand. It's the fairest system there is. That's the whole point of it. Everyone gets exactly what they deserve and no-one is seen as better than anyone else."
"Like he knows anything," scoffed North. "He's just as bad as France, isn't he? If communism's good enough for China and Russia then it's good enough for us."
"We're different from them," said South, still trying to avoid her sister's accusing eyes. "You know that."
"But why shouldn't it work? Besides, communism will make us strong, South. We'll be united, not divided. We'll be able to repel any threats that come our way. We'll never have to be anyone's servant again."
"Is that what this is about?" asked South, finally bringing her eyes up to meet her sister's. "War? Is having a strong army all you care about?"
"Of course not! But come on, don't be naive. We're free now, but if we stay weak then we won't be for long."
"You call communism freedom? Telling people what they can and can't do, what they can own, who they have to be? That's not freedom, North. We've just won our independence; we can't take it away from our people now."
Something snapped inside North Vietnam. The eyes that had been gently smouldering suddenly ignited and her mouth twisted into a snarl. "Don't you do this to me, South. We need this, don't you see? I don't care what America says-" she spat the name out like it tasted bad - "capitalism will ruin us."
"Communism will take away who we are! What's the point of having an 'us' if we're all bland, all the same?" Even South was raising her voice now. "I'm not doing it. I don't care what you say, I won't let this happen!"
North stood up very fast, knocking over her chair. She stared down at her sister as though she hadn't lived and worked alongside her for millennia, as though she was just a particularly unpleasant stranger or a bug that had found its way into her house. South had seen North get angry before - she did have a temper - but she had known her long enough to tell the difference between the different forms of her fury. There was vague annoyance, spiteful resentment, and everything up to blazing rage. But this was different. This was cold hatred, and it scared her. "Well then," said North, her voice flat but charged with suppressed anger. "Perhaps it would be best if I leave."
South forced herself to meet her sister's eyes and wished she hadn't; she didn't like what she saw there. "Perhaps it would."
South Vietnam watched her sister go, stomping down the porch steps and disappearing off into the night. The moon, so bright just a few minutes ago, had been covered by clouds, so she couldn't follow her progress for very long. She stared at the spot where her sister had been lost from view, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes. This wasn't supposed to happen. We only just got our freedom back - we should be celebrating a new age, not separating!
A minute or two after her sister had disappeared, South Vietnam felt a peculiar numbness spread through her. It was as though some of her nerve endings had suddenly shut down, never to work again, like the exact opposite of pins and needles. It wasn't a painful feeling; it was strange, if anything, but she knew exactly what it was. She and her sister had always been one region. The north and south halves of it, maybe, but one Indochina, one Annam, one Vietnam. Not any more. That numbness was the citizens of the north leaving her, becoming one with her sister and her sister only. Hanoi could be destroyed right now and she wouldn't feel a thing, and she knew that if Saigon was to go up in flames tonight, her sister would be none the wiser. A petal landed in her lap; she picked it up between her thumb and forefinger. A lotus petal, pure white instead of the usual pink. Hesitantly, she touched the flower behind her ear and, to her horror, more white petals came away in her hand until only half of the flower was left.
They were well and truly separate nations now.
South Vietnam felt a tear finally spill over and run down her cheek, leaving a damp spot on the brightly coloured fabric of her Ao Dai. She looked down at it, running her fingers over the silk skirt. It had felt so good to wear it again, if only for one night, after so long in that ugly, dirty military uniform.
But she knew now that good things didn't last.
In 1954, the French lost the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and surrendered to the Vietnamese. A ceasefire was negotiated at the Geneva Conference in Switzerland and independence was officially granted to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The northern half of Vietnam had been receiving help from the Soviet Union for a while and wanted to become communist, but the government of the southern half, strongly influenced by America, wanted to remain capitalist. The country was officially partitioned along the seventeenth parallel.
Please leave a review if you liked it! ^_^