Ok, finally done with this part! For some reason, i had to really work extra hard to push out this part. it is a bit longer than usual, and kind of dramatic at parts but bear with me. Hope you like~! Enjoiiii~~~
Reichsstadt Regensburg (Imperial City of Regensburg)
August 7, 1806
His eyes were closed. Perpetually. Forever. Resting and peaceful. Somehow it made Prussia wonder. What did his liquid blue eyes look like hidden underneath those delicate, pale lids? Were they transparent, like glass? Or black, like emptiness? But the vivid sapphire blue would be lost, of this Prussia was sure. He would never see those eyes again.
Prussia sighed and swallowed the soldier's ever-present pain that was at the tip of his tongue and the rims of his eyes, but he could not ebb the flow of tears in his crying heart. Ever so gently, with shaking white hands, he placed the last white rose on the black satin bed alongside all the others to complete the circle. The flowers aligned perfectly along the boy's body, only serving to make him seem paler and smaller than before, so decimated from the last phase of his long life.
"Hey, Preußen. Preußen! Hurry it up."
Prussia peered up to see Saxony and Bavaria standing before him, glancing down with cold indifference. But they could not completely bury the guilt. Prussia could see it in their eyes, the remorse that thrummed beneath those icy masks. He ignored him and trained his eyes back on the little boy's face, glowing like an angel beneath the weak rays of morning sun.
"Let him go."
"He needs peace."
And suddenly, they were all gathered around the coffin. Switzerland, Austria, Thuringia, Swabia, Hesse, even timid little Liechtenstein...Prussia didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It was too ironic. Too hypocritical. Too human. If they had spared him some of this peace and sympathy during his lifetime, he wouldn't be lying here right now. He would be laughing, or complaining, or demanding attention. That restless boy, who tried to uphold the glory and responsibility of a full-fledged empire in a child's body.
" Preußen..." It was a soft female voice. Liechtenstein. She put a gentle hand on his shoulder in comfort while Hesse grabbed his arm to steer him away. But Prussia had to crane his neck back, as if entranced by a spell. Never for a moment did his crimson eyes leave the coffin that lay behind him.
The few black-robed gravediggers lifted the coffin off the ground and steadily lowered it into the deep rectangular ravine carved harshly into the cold, damp ground. So this was where he will spend eternity. Alone and isolated from the unkind world he so loved.
The lid slid close with a soft thump. That delicate face and feather blonde hair was lost forever. They all lined up wordlessly to say their last words. Prussia purposely allowed the others to go ahead of him. He did not want to say it Abschied*. He could not say it. Abschied. He was really gone. Abschied.
The air was heavy and musty, but Prussia's eyes were dry. He did not forget his duty as a soldier. He was the strength. The strength that the Holy Roman Empire did not have. But that boy had so much more courage. More than the whole lot of them added up together. Shameful. That's what they were. They lived and breathed shame.
"Meister Preußen...everyone else has paid their respects." A humble worker reminded him nervously. It was quite a difficult job after all, putting to rest a nation-state, though knowing he had struggled so hard to continue living.
Prussia did not respond, but simply stood and stared. He could sense them, their eyes on his back, all keeping a fair distance but watchful nonetheless. It was always like this. And it had tortured and finally managed to kill their final link. His mind was blank, his feet heavy, and his hands unfeeling as he finally dragged himself over to the edge of the grave and scooped up a handful of earth. He felt its cool, wet, softness in his palm, and slowly allowed it to sift through the cracks between his fingers and come to rest on the coffin. Then his hands found their way to the fine-edged iron cross* that was pinned over his dark blue overcoat of the Prussian military. The cross lay heavy on the left side of his chest, almost as if he was liable to fall over to one side. Weighing down his heart. His lips parted in a desolate whisper. "May better days be before you…"
June 9, 1888
Attack. Parry. Riposte*. Parry, balestra*, and lunge. Parry and counter riposte. Counter and thrust. Parry and lunge…
Two figures danced across the empty ballroom, like the leopard, graceful and vicious as their powerful yet agile body propelled them forward to clash again and again. Their silhouettes flitted across the polished marble floor, their footsteps reverberating off of the marble pillars and ceiling. Footsteps and clashes. Synced and rhythmic. It was a different type of dance. The dance between fighters, the dance that embodies the spirit of noble knights in battle. A different type of dance. But a dance nonetheless.
His brother's lithe figure pranced before his eyes. His brother knew the steps like natural instinct. He was a frightfully fast dancer. Germany's face was seized with concentration. It was a strange power that his opponent wielded, almost uncanny. No matter how many times Germany tried to attack, he was always forced back into defense. Then, a split second flash of glinting blood red eyes, and with lethal accuracy, a strike like lightning. A sudden, insurmountable force on his wrist. And Germany's blade hit the floor with a clang. It slid a short length away from his foot on the smooth marble.
"I win again!" Prussia cackled with a triumphant grin.
Germany sighed and bent down to pick up his rapier*, the thin, long, blade catching a refraction of the sunlight filtering through the grand Rococo windows. With a frustrated grunt, he experimented with several different grips on the hilt and made a few practice thrusts. The blade cut through the air, like the crack of a whip, fast and powerful, resounding through the empty marble hall with clean-cut menace. Withdrawing the rapier, Germany shook his head, which was pounding with irritation. "I don't understand what I'm missing."
"Well, then, let's find out," Prussia stated matter-of-factly. "On guard!"
Germany automatically assumed the en garde position almost as quickly as Prussia gave the order, his reactions being so synced to the training commands it was already a natural reflex. Prussia made a slow circle around Germany, examining the stature with expert eyes. Then, he stopped and directly faced his younger brother, much like a coach to his trainee.
"Alright, relax." Germany did as was told.
"You're stance is perfect. Steady, but giving enough for agility of movement. Your footwork is excellent. Balanced and agile all at once. Speed is exceptional, so is blade work and concentration. You execute each move precisely, and the thrust power is extraordinary," Prussia concluded with his arms folded across his chest.
Germany frowned, confused. "So, why do I lose?"
"Because, Ludwig, your attacks are perfect and actually quite cruel at times, but they're too blunt. They're powerful and fast, but they lack accuracy."
The younger nation grew defiant. "Accuracy? I can strike a point on a target's body 98% of the time! If I recall correctly, you made sure of that personally."
"Ja, you can. But that's not the kind of accuracy I'm talking about. The accuracy I'm talking about," –Prussia smirked at his brother's befuddled expression and raised a finger to point to his own head—, "is in here." A pause, then he continued, "Accuracy isn't how perfectly you execute each position, each move, each and every detail. And neither is it how precisely you strike your target. The accuracy I'm talking about is how accurately you can predict your opponents' moves, and how accurately you can predict which methods will be most effective against these moves. I can guarantee you that no matter how powerful your thrusts are, I can still defeat you if I execute my thrusts with half your power, as long as I hit the right spot before you can." Another pause as he enjoyed the transformation in Germany's expression as the younger nation considered these points. "You see, the beauty of the sport comes from extreme accuracy in the execution of each move in the least number of strikes possible," Prussia explained.
Then he shrugged and broke into a smug grin. "But then again, you're up against me, which makes the chances of winning that much smaller. Ahahaha!" Germany sighed in aggravation at this and sheathed his rapier grudgingly, still itching for the sixth rematch of the day. But what he didn't expect was for Prussia to pat him and back and add, "Hey, relax. I'm what? Twenty times your age? People need experience with this kind of thing. It's no use trying to get there in a rush. Plus, I'll guarantee you'll be able to take down half of Europe with your skills right now. Spain and Austria will go down in a flash. And I don't think the majority of the Eastern Europeans can trump you either. Honest."
"Ja, Bruder…" he agreed, looking away. Germany was grateful for his brother's comforting words, but for some reason he was desperately wondering how he would compare to France? Russia? What about England?
The sound of scurrying footsteps echoed across the high ceiling, approaching them from behind. The brothers turned around to find a young-faced attendant, bowing before them as he tried to catch his breath. "There you are, Meister…"he wheezed, "Your carriage to Potsdam*… is ready…"
Prussia rolled his eyes and threw the rapier at the attendant as he walked past. The boy wobbled on his feet and only barely caught it in his hands. "Bruder, you'll hurt someone," Germany yelled after him, handing the attendant his own rapier with a curt nod of thanks.
Prussia ignored Germany, and continued to complain as they navigated through the grand hallways towards the front entrance, "Ach, I don't understand why Friedrich insists on staying in Potsdam. Every damn week it's nonstop traveling back and forth. Easy for him, since we do most of the work. The Stadtschloss is perfectly fine, and if he does not like it then he could easily stay at Charlottenburg*."
"I thought you would prefer staying in Potsdam, Bruder. A good number of political allies are there, and, well, you're more familiar with the city. Plus, it gives better access to the royal court members."
"Ja, that is true, but I don't appreciate the Reichstag and Bundesrat* being here. Every time they call a damned assembly to argue about useless details, we have to rush back here on moment's notice. Plus, it's not good for the Emperor's health to have to travel back and forth every time he needs to show his face at parliament," Prussia continued to rant as they crossed the front plaza towards the gates, growing more irritable with each word, "I really do worry about the Emperor's health, though. He used to be able to at least force himself to say a few words, but now he can communicate only through writing. And Victoria's English liberalism is getting to his head. I respect the English, but they should really mind their own business and stop trying to stifle us with their radical ideals and Parliamentary* superiority and whatnot. And with Puttkamer* off the seat as minister of interior...Ugh! Bismarck is probably pissed right now…"
They climbed into the carriage with Prussia complaining at the top of his lungs. Germany could only sigh and listen. It was no doubt his brother was right about the current political situation. They had personally announced the resignation of Puttkamer only the day before, and with the current direction the Emperor was moving in, legal and institutional reforms were definitely not far down the road. At this rate, Bismarck's entire system is put in jeopardy… according to my brother, his laws, though some of them rather limiting in freedom, are what cements the unification of the nation. So does that mean a move towards liberal ideals will make the nation fall apart? No, I'm probably overreacting. But still, I can't let that happen. After all…even if the nation does fall apart, Prussia will definitely survive and I most likely won't…A strange notion bubble up from within his chest. A feeling he had never experienced before. Somehow, it seemed to prance around his head, disrupting his thoughts and making his heart jump out of his chest. I'm definitely being irrational. Even if the Chancellor loses favor, a nation should be able to endure political changes…after all, nations like France and Russia have all survived after long decades of turmoil…the question is, will I? I've never known anything other than Bismarck's system ever since…as far back my memory goes…
It was panic. His heartbeat jumped in irregular sync with the carriage's unsteady wheels as they bumped along the dirt road. He glanced over at Prussia, to find him already asleep with his head against the side of the carriage, a low rumble emanating from the back of his throat. It was only a moment ago he was rambling on about socialists and Catholics. Sleeping like a rock…He seems relaxed enough despite all his complaints…it might not be as severe as I think it is, then. I can't let my imagination run amuck at times like this. Ever since I joined the Reichstag in regular proceedings, it feels like I'm getting a new headache every single day…so many names, faces, political parties, sly old men…and to think I haven't even fully taken over the workload yet. It's much more complicated than I thought it would be, and it's more about allies, enemies, and pleasing those in the middle than straightforward decrees. I'm impressed how much control my brother has over these politicians, especially the Bundesrat's loyalty to him. How can a man just give up that kind of power? Does he really plan on letting me take over eventually? And even if I do…will I be able to do as well as him…No…I can't waver now. I have to trust that I'm strong enough.
Friedrichskron Palace (Neues Palais), Potsdam
June 9, 1888
The horses' trotting footsteps slowed to a stop as the black carriage pulled up in front of the palace's grand front entrance. Prussia, who was sleeping against the side of the carriage, tumbled onto the carriage floor with its final lurch. A loud thump, then a scream of pain.
"Ach! I hate carriages!" he cursed as he picked himself up and straightened his uniform. A servant opened the door and the two brothers got off hastily—eager to stretch their legs—then proceeded swiftly into the palace. They were both exhausted and starving, having woken up at the break of dawn to go to Berlin and sat in parliament all the way through morning and noon. The ridiculous amount of paperwork Prussia had under his arms was proof of that.
An attendant, seeing the brothers approach, hurried to greet them with a deep bow. "Willkommen zurück*, Meister. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince is present. His Imperial and Royal Majesty wishes you to join them."
"Danke," replied Germany with a nod, ready to follow the attendant to meet with the Emperor at once. But Prussia groaned, tired from a day's work and wished only to retire to his bedchamber after a nice, hot, five-course meal. He ignored the attendant and walked past him towards the stairs in rushed, long strides.
"Meister, that is the wrong direction!" the attendant shouted after him nervously, but Prussia charged onwards, determined to get to his bedroom before anybody could stop him. He was in no mood to play around with Friedrich's son, who was sharp but too hot-tempered and stubborn to respect anyone else's opinions. I'll just pretend I was drunk getting back or something…I'll make up an excuse after I get some food.
"Don't worry about it," Germany told the attendant, "I'll make sure he's present."
"Danke, danke, Meister. I apologize wholeheartedly for troubling you," the attendant stumbled over his words, bowing again and again to Germany, who had already gone on to chase after his brother.
"Bruder, you're being irrational again!"
"No, I'm not! Gimme a break, I've had a long day…"
"Ah, so glad you could join us, Meister." The Queen and Empress, sitting next to the Emperor with a cup of tea in her hand, addressed the two brothers with a slight frown of disapproval as they entered.
"I apologize for our tardiness, Empress. We ran into certain…difficulties on our way here," Germany explained with an apologetic bow. Prussia shot him an irritated look.
Before the two brothers could properly greet the monarchs, the crown prince* sitting opposite his parents across the low coffee table rose to his feet excitedly at the sight of the brothers, a large smile on his face."Ah, Ludwig! Perfect timing. I was just explaining to Mother how forcing the resignation of Puttkamer was a grave mistake!" Then, to Prussia graciously, "Guten Tag, Meister Beillschmidt."
"I am glad to see you are well, Your Royal Highness," Germany responded with a slight dip of the head. It had been about six months since they had last seen each other, and it seemed as if Wilhelm's habit of dressing in military uniform was becoming more and more elaborate. The man himself, young and energetic at 29 years old, was the very essence of the Junker military man, with high cheek bones, an angular jaw, bellicose blue eyes, a perfectly straight nose, and to top it all off, a stylish handlebar moustache. He was donned in the finest of military uniforms, white with golden collar and lining. I see his taste hasn't changed, thought Germany with an inward sigh. He had known Wilhelm since he was a boy and Wilhelm, though an entire decade younger, had grown up alongside the nation at pretty much the same rate. It was a strange relationship, but in a sense, they were childhood friends.
"I thought I told you not to call me that, Ludwig," Wilhelm demanded.
"Wilhelm, sit down," Victoria interjected, then held up a piece of paper for him to see, "And that's a direct order from your father." He sat down, albeit grudgingly. Victoria gestured to the armchairs on either side of the couch. "Please take a seat."
"Now, as we were discussing the case of Puttkamer," Wilhelm continued as the brothers settled down, "I must point out that though the Fürst's* choice for Interior Minister does not suit many people's taste, Puttkamer is a practical man, devoted to the state, and a much better choice than Herrfurt."
"Puttkamer may have done 'well,' as you interpret it, as minister of public education and worship, but as Interior Minister he did nothing of worth. It was high time he gave up his seat, since it was only Bismarck who was able to keep him his title. But, alas, he dared to play tricks during the elections, and even the Fürst could not say anything now," Victoria countered as she calmly finished her cup of tea.
Prussia, his head propped up by his arm against the armchair, watched Victoria make her clear and logical argument as she slowly sipped her tea, reminding him a little of a certain temperamental Brit with a huge ego. Concentrating on the continuous back and forth between the mother and son allowed his anger at Germany to simmer down, replaced by that sort of wariness only an old, sly politician knew. Scrutinizing the royal couple, he soon realized that though most of what Victoria was saying was borrowed from Friedrich's continuous writing, a considerable part was also her own input. I've got to give it to her for being clever and quite convincing. But it's also quite disconcerting the way she and Friedrich communicate. It's certainly true that Friedrich still makes the main decisions, but her influence is becoming too great. I shouldn't have let the two of them spend so much time in England. It's affected Friedrich's political ideals way too much. Damn British…why are they always so pushy?
"…We must further bolster our military strength, especially with this fragile peace that is already hard to contain. The alliances cannot be relied on, particularly those backstabbing Russians. We must protect Germany's place in the sun and expand our influence to match that of the French and British!" Prussian frowned at this statement, and chewed his lips in contemplation. Wilhelm's immense passion for military glory has escalated over the years into some strange obsession with hyper-expansionism. But then again, he was fed nationalism and German glory since he was born…how else would I have expected him to turn out? Gott…this is bad. I really regret not paying proper attention to this kid when he was younger. Come to think of it, I've barely spoken ten sentences to him in the past year. But then again, Bismarck himself says Wilhelm should be of no major threat… After all, he does manage to offset his parents in the political field…But he's overdoing it, that's what.
He glanced over at Germany, who was listening to Wilhelm's powerful but wild speech with apparent interest. A deep frown gathered on Prussia's silver eyebrows. Germany should know to say something at this point. After all, the brothers had a sort of silent agreement that, when it came to Wilhelm, it was Germany who should always do the talking. Wilhelm was much more likely to listen to his childhood friend, whom he had never viewed as an authoritative figure or political opponent. After a few minutes, Prussia finally caught Germany's eye. The older brother fixed the other with a deep frown and jerked his head towards Wilhelm insistently. Say something, dammit! You Dummkopf! Germany only returned this commanding gesture with a slight frown of his own, as if saying that it was inappropriate to interrupt
The valley between Prussia's eyebrows deepened as he fixed Germany with a bewildered stare. How could his brother, who knew exactly what to say as a diplomat and knew exactly what to do between political tensions, sit there and not do anything? Has he forgotten his duty as the keeper of this nation? Prussia couldn't just leave the issue dangling, so he automatically cut in. "I mean no disrespect, Your Royal Highness, but I have differing views on this matter of military expansion."
Wilhelm's brow furrowed, a puzzled expression on his face. Immediately, Victoria and the emperor Friedrich were both listening to Prussia's words with acute attentiveness. "I must keep true to my views, Your Highness. Our colonies bring us great profit each year. That is a matter of celebration. However, we do not conquer purely for the sake of conquest. In fact, though the British are most notorious for their exploits in the field of imperialism—excuse me, Your Majesty—but they, too, hold commercial profit as their first and foremost priority. I am sure the Fürst will agree with me on this point."
"Ah, yes, of course," Wilhelm quickly backed down. However, still unsure of which side Prussia was on, he ventured, "But surely Meister Beilschmidt of all people sees the importance of military strength, no? It is a form of defense, after all."
"I can't deny being a supporter of strengthening the military, but not for the sake of expansion, only defense. Of course, we must ready for initiating offense, since if war really does break out, it's difficult to separate defensive measures from offensive ones," and with an added nod to the old war hero Friedrich, "As war always goes."
Friedrich and Victoria assessed Prussia, intrigued at his uncharacteristically nonmilitant perspective. Wilhelm's frown eased up slightly, relieved that Prussia was not taking his parents' side, but also a little disappointed the man he idolizes did not completely take his side either. Unfazed by the thick judgments buzzing in the air directed at him, Prussia rose to his feet and bowed to each of the three royals. "Excuse me, but I still have an evening engagement of sorts. Gute Nacht*, Your Highness, Your Majesties."
The frown on Germany's forehead grew along with apprehension as he watched his brother exit the room in dignified, broad strides. Prussia rarely went anywhere without Germany if it was a political engagement. In fact, the brothers spent so much time together they barely spent nine hours a day apart. Sometimes, when an old war buddy was in town, Prussia would go drinking for a few hours and come back so dead drunk that he could barely sit up on his horse (God knows why he always insisted on riding), but "engagements," as Prussia called it, always involved the two of them together. It must be a casual meeting, then. Or perhaps he was just making an excuse to get out of the room? But somehow, Germany was unsettled. The very possibility that Prussia might be hiding something from him seemed to unbalance his entire mental equilibrium. Secrets? Political secrets? He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He had no choice but to wait until his brother's return.
June 9, 1888
9: 41 pm
"Tay-rap! Tay-rap*!" The whip cracked harshly through the air rushing past his ears. The horse let out a long, screaming neigh and lurched forward, racing down the street at a perilous speed, charging by a few late-night stragglers and wobbling drunks. Gott, do I look like that when I'm drunk? Prussia wondered a little remorsefully as the drunkards he almost knocked over shrieked slurred, unintelligible, profanity after him and his black Hanoverian*. Prussia could feel his dark mare panting from exhaustion, but he urged her on. "Almost there, girl. Almost there," he shouted over the crack of the whip.
Prussia didn't know why he was suddenly unsettled, like premonition had caught him unawares. Sitting there in the room with the royal family and Germany, it bothered him immensely because something seemed to have become unraveled. No, not unraveled. Rather as if…something had passed him by. All of them. He didn't know what it was or what it meant, but there was certainly an urgent issue that nagged him incessantly, and coupled with the strange nervous sensation, he had done the first thing that came to his mind.
Approaching his destination up head, he suddenly jerked on his reigns. "Brrrrrrrrr*!" he halted the horse. She neighed in alarm, forced onto her hind legs at the abrupt command to stop. Before she was steadily on all fours, Prussia had already sprang off her back and made a harried knot on a nearby fence with the reigns. "Stay, Kugel*," he instructed, then rushed up the front door stairs two by two. He banged on the door with his fist, ignoring the stares that he was getting from the rest of the neighbourhood, since quite a few disturbed civilians were staring out the window at the peculiar silver-haired man in full-fledged military uniform.
Footsteps rushed downstairs from the other side of the door, and the door was flung open. "Who is it, in the middle of the night?" Prussia found himself face-to-face with a flustered and rather short housekeeper. But acknowledging Prussia's noble dress, she immediately bowed, and stepped aside to let him in. The silver-haired man, who had calmed down a little at this point, muttered an apology, then continued, "I'm here to see the Fürst." Without any further explanation, he trudged past her into the hallway.
"Mister! Mister, please do not-"
"It's alright, Frieda." A thin female figure of her later years appeared in the hallway. Her manner was of reserved dignity, and she held herself firmly upright despite her age. The housekeeper instantly retreated into a room with a hurried bow. "Guten Abend*, Meister Beilschmidt. It has been quite a while. How have you been? Please excuse Frieda, she was hired after your last house call."
"Guten Abend, Fürstin von Bismarck*," Prussia answered with a polite bow of the head, "Please excuse my intrusion. But I really do need to speak to the Fürst. It is…urgent, you might say." He felt rather awkward standing in that hallway with Johanna, whom he knew disapproved of his violent ways, though she would never show it.
"I understand. He is upstairs in his study," she stated simply, then swept away to return to her reading, leaving Prussia a little disgruntled and out-of-place in the hallway. But this was soon forgotten as he rushed up the stairs and barged into the study. He found Bismarck concentrated on a game of chess with himself, with a cup of tea to the side. Prussia wrinkled his nose. It was somehow strange to see the chancellor out of uniform. Prussia's red eyes quickly scanned the office. It was simplistic, but full of a nobleman's stateliness and a Prussian's patriotism at the same time. The light-coloured walnut desk was situated in front of a few columns of tall, alphabetized bookshelves, which also served as a display for various decorative items, such as oriental vases and porcelain figurines. On the desk were documents, papers, and a couple of pens placed to the side, not unlike Prussia's own desk but more neatly arranged. The rest of the room consisted of some armchairs, some drawers, and various symbols of country and nobility on the walls.
"Sit," Bismarck ordered, eyes not leaving the chessboard. There was always something about the chancellor that offset Prussia's normal cycle of boom and bust, and as the nation stood there feeling unsure of what to do with his hands, he hesitated a little before pulling out the armchair and settling down on the opposing side of the chessboard.
"How'd you know it was me?" Prussia demanded, a little disturbed by the chancellor's uncanny ability to predict his actions.
"I heard you halfway down Wilhelmstraβe*. Who else charges down the street like that at this hour? In fact, who else charges down the street like that at all?" He finally lifted his face and eyed Prussia quizzically. "You're disturbing public peace, Beilschmidt. I should have you arrested. Too bad it's not under my jurisdiction." He returned to his chess game. "Now, what brings you here at this late hour?"
"It's about…the Crown Prince."
A slight pause. Bismarck's hand stopped atop the black pawn he was about to move.
"I suspected as much." Bismarck sighed, and leaned back in his armchair, folding his hands across his lap. "He was in Potsdam today. I heard."
Prussia scowled. "News sure gets around quickly, huh?" He came in a camouflaged carriage! You scare me sometimes.
"Just keeping my ears open." He took a calm sip of tea. "Now."
Prussia chewed on his lip, disgruntled, then blurted, "I'm having serious doubts about Wilhelm, old man. I know we initially trained him as a political instrument to create a gap between him and his parents, but he's gone radical with imperialistic ideals. He had quite a debate with his mother and father today."
"You can say the future doesn't look bright. He's always been quick-witted but stubborn. The bad temper can be overlooked in normal situations since he's not a stupid boy, but he's bent on an expansionist regime. I knew he was quite extremely conservative, more than you or I, but this…" Prussia shook his head in irritation. "I've dealt with some very foolish kings and somehow survived, so evidently Wilhelm certainly isn't the worst. But with the dangerous atmosphere between Austria-Hungary and Russia and also France being a constant enemy on the side, we can't take any risks."
The frown on Bismarck's face deepened with every word. After a brief pause, "You didn't bring your brother today."
"Ja. Though Ludwig tires of Wilhelm's personality, they are still quite close no matter how much he may complain," Prussia answered, a flicker of shame on his face.
Bismarck nodded in approval. "Good. I'm glad you've still got your instincts."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Prussia flared.
"I was worried there for a moment that your brotherhood would blind you from making the wisest choice."
"How many times do I have to tell you? Ludwig's on our side! I raised him, I know!"
"For now he is. But he is developing his own political awareness, and you have to be wary of that. He won't listen to you forever. Think about yourself, for instance. How much have your take on politics changed since, oh, I don't know, six decades ago?"
"I—You—! Ugh…" Prussia could only grind his teeth. It was true. If it were back in the days of Old Fritz, he wouldn't have hesitated with Wilhelm's expansionist regime one bit. He would have throttled on full speed, and probably emerge with a few brand new battle scars, but otherwise unscathed. But the world was a completely different place since the age of enlightenment and monarchical right. He couldn't think with 18th century ideals any longer.
"You see what I mean? All I'm saying is to be aware of your brother's political standing. It may shift, and you need to prevent that. But subtly, Beilschmidt."
"Fine…what about Wilhelm then?"
"Wilhelm…Wilhelm is quite a bit trickier. But as long as you, your brother, and I continue to oppose his extremities, he should be able to calm down eventually. He's young, and caught up in German glory. The problem is that he's never actually been to war and have been raised to think that the Prussians have achieved glory through war and only war."
"Oh, you're too kind," Prussia remarked sarcastically. But he couldn't deny that he took pride in his military conquests. "Well, is that it then?" He stood up to leave, surprisingly much calmer after such a cynical conversation with Bismarck, as all their conversations were.
"Just about. But we do need to carefully regulate Wilhelm's political leanings. We'll discuss again in week. Don't bring Ludwig."
Prussia hesitated a little, but nodded, then was just about to leave when Bismarck stopped him.
"Oh, and one more thing." The chancellor had returned to his game of solitary chess. "You might have some trouble with your horse. It shouldn't have gotten too far, though."
The nation stopped in his tracks, utterly confused. "What?"
"The rope came loose about ten minutes ago," Bismarck told him calmly, nodding at the window located right behind where Prussia had been sitting.
"What? You cursed old man!" Prussia swore, "Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
"We were in the middle of an important conversation. And that is no way to address your chancellor," Bismarck remarked coolly.
"Ja, but it is the way to address an old man that doesn't have the decency to tell somebody when their horse got loose!" Prussia shouted, already halfway down the stairs.
With a ground-shaking bang, Bismarck heard his front door being slammed shut. He peered out the window down at the flustered Prussia, who was shouting after his precious Hanoverian like a madman. Apparently, the mare was chewing on some trees down the road. Bismarck gave a slight chuckle. Kugel. What a strange name for a horse.
Friedrichskron Palace, Potsdam
June 15, 1888
Red. The spot of paint floating in the distance. That was all he allowed himself to see. Just the red spot, like a single point in time one tried to isolate.
Prussia nocked* the arrow and drew back the bowstring until it was fully extended, left* arm along his jaw line. His red eyes narrowed, locking on the red dot in the distance, as if containing it with his red eyes. The target was a synthetic red, dull and unmoving. But his eyes were the opposite. Sharp and full of life. Then, with smooth, practiced movement, he captured his target, aimed, and released. Whoosh. The arrow cut through the air with terrifying power and speed. And suddenly, it had pierced the bulls-eye.
Without so much as a hint of satisfaction on his face, Prussia grabbed another arrow and this time, aimed for the fletching* of the first arrow already notched into the target. Pull, aim, fly. The second arrow landed right next to the first one, but not where its archer had intended. Prussia groaned in irritation and was about to reach for another arrow when he saw Germany crossing the green lawn of the enormous back garden.
"Hey! Ludwig," Prussia greeted rather loudly.
" Tag*, Bruder." Germany made his way over to the thick, evenly-trimmed lawn and took to Prussia's side. Then, with a slightly intrigued tone, "Target practice?"
"Ja, it's been a while. And I'm out practice," Prussia sighed with a shake of the head, "I used to be able to split an arrow with a second one."
Germany raised his eyebrows quizzically. "Really? Then, show me."
Prussia's eyes narrowed once again, this time not in concentration but in defiance. "Are you challenging me?"
Germany crossed his arms over his chest. "What if I said yes?"
Silence. Then, "Ahahahaha!" Prussia broke into a fit of earsplitting laughter. "Nice try, but you'll regret it!"
And so it went, Prussia determined to split the first arrow. Whoosh. Another whoosh. And on the third try, crack. The first arrow splintered, split, and was sent scattering into the grass. "Now, there it is!" Prussia laughed, his pride swelling up immediately.
"So you weren't just boasting."
"What? Not even a congratulations?"
"Since it's something that you've always been able to do, there's nothing to congratulate on."
"You're just jealous.s" Prussia waved him off, and turned back to his target practice with renewed zeal. Five arrows later, two of which were splintered in half, Germany suddenly spoke.
"Hey, Bruder. There's something I need to ask you."
Prussia lowered his bow and arrow to fix his arm guard*. "Ja, what is it?"
"On that night when His Royal Highness was here, you suddenly left. And just this morning, you were gone too. Where did you go?" Germany watched Prussia carefully from the corner of his eye. This question had been bothering him for a few days now.
"Oh, nothing really. That night, when Wilhelm was here, I just got annoyed and went for a ride. And this morning I was in Berlin for some minor business with the Bundesrat. You don't need to concern yourself with it. Squabbling nobles and whatnot."
"Is that so…" Germany let his voice trail off into the tranquility of the summer afternoon. The birds were singing a lighthearted June chorus and the warm breeze gently caressed their cheeks. It was as if time had grown lazy and relaxed into the sunny blue sky. So Germany decided to let the matter rest. For now. Prussia's alibis were believable enough, since Germany had yet to involve himself majorly with the Bundesrat and his brother was known for going on spontaneous 7-hour long rides, but nonetheless, something was off. It was the way that Prussia behaved that night. He was in a hurry, as if alarmed. It was a subtle change in character and unnoticeable by most, but after spending so much time as his political partner, Germany could sense the small but distinct shift in behavior. At this thought, Germany clenched his teeth together involuntarily. What's he hiding? What could he possibly not want me to know? He had raised me for this. To take over this nation someday. And just when I'm almost ready…he can't be having second thoughts now, can he?
But a panicked cry disrupted Germany's train of thought.
The brothers whirled around to find a flabbergasted attendant, his clothing ruffled and his hair unkempt, sprinting towards them with a terrified expression on his face. He stopped in front of them and began to babble an unintelligible message before he could catch his breath.
"What did you say?" Prussia snapped impatiently, "For Gott's sake, breathe before you—"
But the attendant finally choked out his words.
"The Emperor…has…passed away."
1 Abschied-farewell in German.
2 Iron Cross (Eisemez Kreuz)- a square cross symbol appearing after The Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order to combine the Black Cross and the Cross of Jerusalem in 1219. It is later established as a Prussian, then German military decoration.
3 Riposte- in French, literally, retort. In fencing, the counterattack after parrying an opponent's attack
4 Balestra- essential footwork in fencing that's sort of like a light hop, usually setting up a lunge (or fleche in modern fencing).
5 Rapier- the blade/foil used in fencing (just in case you didn't know).
6 Potsdam- A city approximately 24 km (very close) to Berlin. It was the capital of Prussia before German unification and the capital of modern-day Brandenburg (basically, what's left of Prussia as a province of Germany). During Friedrich's reign, his preferred residency was the Neues Palais (New Palace), or Friedrichskron Palace as it was renamed. The royal court actually stayed in Potsdam after the capital moved to Berlin, so Potsdam became where many traditional aristocrats who held high political authority stayed.
7 Schloss Charlottenburg- summer palace of the German emperors in Berlin. The Stadtschloss was the official residence (in Berlin).
8 Bundesrat- Prussian House of Lords. Considered upper house compared to Reichstag. A third of the Bundesrat is Prussian (a bunch of Junkers), so as you can imagine, they're highly loyal to traditional Prussian ideals.
9 Parliament- ok, clarification on the use of "parliament." Any national assembly in Europe is usu. called parliament (Reichstag, Bundesrat), but since the British Parliament is quite special, I will capitalize when referring to the British one.
10 Robert von Puttkamer- Prussian statesman most known for being the minister of public education and worship, then the minister of interior as appointed by Bismarck in 1881. He was conservative and matched the tastes of Bismarck and Wilhelm I, but liberal Friedrich III had him resign on June 8, 1888
11 Willkommen zurück- welcome back in German
12 Kaiser Wilhelm II (27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941)- Wilhelm was the successor of Friedrich III as German Emperor and King of Prussia in the Hohenzollern line. He was quick-minded and clever, however was short-tempered and quite obstinate. He grew up idolizing his father and his grandfather Wilhelm I for their accomplishments in warfare. His pride and obsession with the military is characteristic of the Prussian spirit. He clashed with his parents (especially his mother) on political views, since he was raised to be a highly conservative individual, but also extremely expansionist for German glory.
13 The Fürst- Fürst, meaning prince in German (I think I included this somewhere earlier…), here refers to Bismarck, who was the Prince of Bismarck (Fürst von Bismarck).
14 Gute Nacht- good night. Self-explanatory
15 Tay-rap- something like "trot" in German. Horse command to make the horse hurry (?). Not sure about this one.
16 Hanoverian- a breed of German horse known for its speed and grace
17 Brrrrr- this probably seems weird when read, but that's how you halt your horses in Germany.
18 Kugel- bullet in German. Apparently, Prussia has named his mare bullet.
19 Guten Abend- good evening
20 Johanna von Bismarck (Johanna von Puttkamer; 11 April 1824 - 27 November 1894)- Bismarck's wife, a Prussian noblewoman who was the sister of politician Robert von Puttkamer (Yes, that same one they were arguing about). She was born into a family of extremely pious Lutherans and was reserved but sharp-tongued in her later years.
21 Wilhelmstrasse- it's actually a street running through central Berlin, where the Chancellory was located. Bismarck's official residence was also on this street, but Google refuses to give me which specific number.
22 Arrow nock- In archery, where the arrow is latched onto the bowstring.
23 Left arm along his jaw line- normally, it would be right arm, but Prussia is LEFT-HANDED (I just learned this a few days ago) so it would be the other way around.
24 Fletching- the "tail" at the end of arrows for balance.
25 Tag- Short (thus informal) for Guten Tag, which is pretty much like "good day."
26 Arm guard- leather strap worn to protect the archer's wrist and forearm.
Disclaimer: this work is purely fiction. It is not intended to represent any realistic political views, etc. Axis Powers Hetalia belongs to Himaruya Hidekaz
Phew, alright that was a lot of work! Sorry, so many footnotes. Gosh, twenty-six...maybe i went a little overboard. ^^' Anewayz, thanks to an awesome reviewer, I learned to my great embarrassment that brother in German is not Brüder, but simply just Bruder. I'll be re-editing all of that junk out from previous chapters once i get the time, but for now ive made sure theres none of that in this chapter. So, thank you! Anewayz, just know that i know absolutely nothing about fencing, archery, or horses so if you know either of those three things and find that i used the wrong vocab or something, just tell me. For the fencing, i literally spent an hour and a half on three different websites trying to understand basic fencing moves just for that one intro sentence. -_-' Oh and one more thing, if you were wondering why Hungary wasn't at Holy Rome's funeral, it's because Hungary was historically never part of the Holy Roman Empire.
Ok, well, again, reviews please? i seriously do look for criticism, guys. ^_^