This is a story I wrote for the Hetalia kink meme. The prompt was that Prussia goes to his own funeral after everyone for some reasons thinks he's dead.
The story will include Prumano.
Prussia woke up when he felt the bed under him move. He didn't bother opening his eyes or acknowledging it in any way. He knew perfectly well that it was just Romano getting up because there was a world meeting that day and he was supposed to be there.
"Hey. Get up."
Prussia shut his eyes tighter when Romano gave him a poke to the shoulder and turned his back on him. He wasn't going to the meeting. He wasn't needed there. He didn't have to get up just because Romano wanted company in his misery. He could stay in the warm bed and sleep for as long as he wanted.
He heard Romano climb upstairs and slam the door shut. Maybe he should have at least said good morning. He usually got up together with him and had breakfast with him, even if Romano tended to get up at ungodly hours by Prussia's standards. But this time there was the meeting looming in the horizon, and Prussia really didn't want to go to the kitchen and see everyone else in the house in suits and ready to go off to work.
It wasn't normally a problem. He had had over twenty years now to get used to the fact that he was no longer a nation. He didn't care. He was free to do whatever he wanted, and he didn't get headaches from paperwork or catch a cold when the economy got bad. Heck, he loved it when Romano, Germany and Italy had to waste the whole day in a stuffy meeting room and talk about ridiculous EU regulations while he got to spend the day in his boxers and play video games.
It was just these past weeks that he had been feeling kind of like crap. Everyone was busy dealing with the financial crisis and so buried under work that they didn't have time for much else. And when they did, they were tired and in a bad mood. Romano had thrown such a tantrum when they had last been out eating. Prussia couldn't believe he had got that angry just because he had chatted with a couple of chicks while Romano was in the restroom.
And then there was Germany who barely talked to him these days. He spent all his time staring at his computer screen, making phone calls or reading the financial news with a deepening frown on his face. Even Italy didn't smile as much as he used to.
The worst part was that the others were in this together. They had a common problem that they were trying to solve. Even if it usually developed into arguing and blaming each other, at least they had something important to do.
Prussia, on the other, was feeling more and more useless every day. Maybe it was a sign. Maybe his time was up. The world obviously didn't need him, so maybe he should just accept that and fade away like so many others before him.
That frightening thought got him awake better than a bucket of cold water being poured on him could have. That wasn't what he wanted. He still had plenty of things he wanted to do, and he couldn't just keel over and leave his kid brother behind. Or Romano. The fit the southern half of Italy would throw if he disappeared on him would destroy half of the planet, and Prussia figured he owed it to the world to prevent that from happening.
He forced himself up and staggered up the stairs into the kitchen. It was full chaos, like he had been expecting. Italy was running back and forth between the hall and the kitchen, crying that he couldn't find his other shoe anywhere and that Germany had to help him. Sadly, Germany was busy cleaning his suit with paper towels and scowling like someone had peed in his coffee. Prussia guessed that Italy had surprised him with a hug right when he had been about to drink something.
Romano at least looked like he wasn't going to experience a nervous break-down the next minute. He was sitting at the table, sipping his coffee and finishing a sandwich. Of course, that didn't mean he was in a good mood.
"So, you got up after all, bastard."
"Sure, it's not like I'm letting you off to that meeting before saying good morning first," Prussia said and got himself a mug from the cupboard. He grabbed the coffee pan, but then he noticed that there was barely enough left to cover the bottom of his mug.
"Aww, who drank all the coffee?"
"Maybe there'd be some left if you had got up earlier."
"Hey, I got here just some ten minutes after you. Don't be cranky."
Romano slammed his mug against the table. "Hell, maybe you'd be cranky, too, if you had to work like a slave from dawn to dusk and deal with a selfish asshole whose biggest problem in the world is that there's no coffee left! And fuck, who do you think made that coffee? Your bastard of a brother who's already overworked! You can just get up at any hour you want and do whatever you want, and you still let others do everything for you! Seriously, fuck you!"
Prussia's hand remained frozen at the tap that he had been about to turn so that he could fill the pan. Wow, if Romano took Germany's side in anything, he had to be majorly pissed off. He didn't know how to deal with a tantrum of this level this early, at least not until he had got some caffeine into his system.
"Um, sorry?" he offered.
Romano downed the rest of his coffee without another word and got up to get his suitcase and jacket. Italy's shoe had been found in the laundry pile, and Germany had given up on trying to get his suit to look clean. He ordered the others to get into the car within five minutes because they were already running late and might get stuck in traffic.
"Hey, West, are the dogs –"
"I took them out this morning. Sorry, I have to go."
And with that, Germany grabbed his keys, herded the two halves of Italy into the car and finally drove away. Prussia watched them from the window until they were gone. That had been even more chaotic than usual, he mused and finally started filling the coffee pan.
The sound of running water rang horribly loud in his ears. Just a moment ago, the house had been full of shouting, crying and muttered profanities. Now it was deserted and quiet almost to the point of eerie, like everyone had suddenly died.
Once the coffee was ready, Prussia filled his mug and went to sit on the couch in the living room. Germany hated it when he ate or drank there, but he always did it anyway. He turned on the TV, just in time to catch the second half of the morning news.
There was a report on the development of the financial crisis and how a handful of banks all over Europe were in danger. That was followed by the latest report on a revolution somewhere far away. Finally, a scientist was interviewed about the ecological problems in the Pacific.
Prussia made a face and turned off the TV. None of that had anything to do with him. None of it was interesting.
He nearly jumped when a cold nose suddenly pressed against his leg. Berlitz had come over to lie at his feet, and Prussia gave the dog an absent-minded pat with his toes. He had been thinking that he'd take the dogs out and stock the fridge while Germany was at the meeting, but his brother had already taken care of it. Maybe he didn't trust him enough to even let him do that.
"This sucks," Prussia muttered and dropped the empty coffee mug on the floor. When had he become this pathetic? It didn't suit him at all. Even if he wasn't a nation anymore, he should have been at the top of the world and dictating how it was run. Then the others would stop looking at him like he was some bum.
He spent the day playing his favourite video games and watching stupid YouTube videos. Both his lunch and his dinner were a pizza that he warmed up in the microwave. He was comfortably seated on the couch with all three dogs when he heard the front door open in the evening.
Prussia turned his head to look, expecting the German-Italian trio to be back, but there was only his brother.
"Where's Romano? Didn't he come back with you?"
Germany sighed and tossed his car keys on the table. "He and Italy had to return home. They have an urgent meeting with their politicians about the current situation."
"Oh." That sucked. Prussia had been hoping he and Romano could have spent some quality time together. He felt like it was forever since they had done anything but bickered. Fighting was normal in their relationship, but Prussia didn't particularly enjoy it if it wasn't followed by making out on the couch and feeding ice cream to each other.
"Haven't I told you not to let the dogs jump on the couch?" Germany asked.
"Aww, come on. They just want to get cuddly."
"But then I have to vacuum it." Germany's eyes moved to the empty bowl on the floor. "Then again, I have to do it anyway because you keep eating snacks on it."
Was it just him, or did Germany sound more tired than usual? Prussia couldn't tell. His brother had been pretty cranky after meetings lately. All things considered, it probably wasn't fun to get up early to take the dogs out, spend the whole day working and then come back home to clean up the mess that awaited there.
"Don't worry. I can do it," he offered.
"Never mind. I have to clean up here anyway."
Prussia shrugged. "Whatever. So, how was the meeting?"
"A total disaster," Germany said and came to sit by his side after shooing the dogs away.
"I figured. You guys aren't getting anywhere with the way you handle politics these days. If I was still in charge, I'd just grab a gun and tell everyone to do what I say or suck it!"
"You know that it would just create even more problems."
"Maybe, but at least it would be fun, haha!"
Germany shot him such a dirty glare that Prussia couldn't remember the last time he had looked at him like that. "Some of us have more important matters to think about than whether something is fun."
"Hey, I know. I was just –"
"And before you say it, war is not awesome. It's horrible, and I'm sick of hearing you suggest it every time there's a problem. War as a solution to anything is an outdated concept that has no place in modern Europe," Germany said, and this time Prussia knew he wasn't imagining the exhausted tone in his voice.
"Dammit, West! I wasn't going to say that. You should get to bed if you're in such a bad mood."
Prussia crossed his arms on his chest and stared at the TV. Yeah, war had no place in Europe. He didn't need to be told that. Frankly, war had stopped being fun once they had got rid of man to man battle and had developed long-distance weapons that could wipe out half an army at one go. When it was about facing an opponent with a sword or struggling to reload your musket before you got shot yourself, now that was fun.
But the times for this type of war were long gone. Just like the times for the Kingdom of Prussia. And East Germany. Maybe Germany hadn't meant it like that, but Prussia suddenly felt like he had told him that he was outdated and had no place in Europe.
"Maybe I should," Germany said, rubbing his eyes. "I have to meet some people from the banks in the morning."
"I'll finish this movie. I don't have to be anywhere tomorrow."
Just like he didn't have to be anywhere the day after that or the day after that. Damn, what had become of his life? Was there really nothing more productive for him to do than sit on the couch, drink beer and watch TV?
Pathetic. If Frederick was watching over him, he was probably disappointed beyond belief. It was such a depressing thought that Prussia immediately turned off the TV.
He sat in the silence of the dark living room for a good while. This wouldn't do at all, he knew. He couldn't just sit on his ass like a bum when everyone else was working so hard. He'd have to figure out something. Even if they didn't want his help, he could always come up with his own goals and do something great. Like... Well, he didn't know, but he'd figure out something.
Maybe he just needed some inspiration. He could pop in a DVD and watch a documentary about himself or go to Wikipedia to read about his awesome victories. But why stop there? Why not go straight to the places where it had all happened and relive his best memories?
The more he thought about that, the better it sounded. Yeah, that was exactly what he'd do. He'd take some two or three weeks and just travel around, visiting every place that was important to his history. He didn't have a job; he could leave everything behind just fine for a short while.
And maybe that would improve his relationship with the others. They had all been such assholes to each other lately. If he gave them some time to work out their financial shit and came back once they were in a better mood, everything would be great.
Yeah, that was what he'd do.
The next morning, Prussia got up early. He waited until Germany had left to the meeting and then started making his preparations. He filled a backpack with all the cool things he'd need – a diary for writing down his awesome experiences, some junk food, bird seeds for Gilbird and all the cash he could find on such short notice.
He paused when his eyes fell on his phone. If he took it, Germany and Romano would no doubt try to call him and tell him to come back home. That would ruin both his cool road trip and their chance to concentrate on their work. It wouldn't do. He'd just leave the phone here in plain sight and buy a pre-paid phone on the way for emergencies.
He was already at the front door when he realised that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to just run away without letting the others know what he was doing. They'd be worried that he was in trouble. He had better write them a note or something, just to prove that he could be responsible when he wanted.
He ran back to the basement and grabbed a pen and a paper.
"Hmm, dictate for me, Gilbird," he muttered. He didn't want to waste time explaining everything. "No, wait. I've got it!"
Sorry to dump you all like this but lately I haven't been feeling that good and I figure I've got to look the truth in the eyes and all that. It's time to be off and awesome. All things considered, it's a surprise it took this long. Sorry I didn't tell you this was happening, but it was kind of sudden and you were so busy. By the time you read this, I'll be long gone. But don't worry about me, I'll be fine. And I'm sure you guys can work everything out with the finance crap and stuff without me if you try hard enough.
PS Tell Romano that he's the best boyfriend ever and that he shouldn't be mad at me, ok?
"There, perfect!" he said once he had re-read what he had written. He attached the note to the fridge with a magnet of a black eagle. Now everything would be fine. Nobody would have a reason to be mad at him when he came back.
He made sure Gilbird was safely on top of his head and marched out through the door. He could already feel his strength and awesomeness returning. The next few weeks were going to be so kick-ass! The others would be so surprised to see the new – no, the old and awesome Prussia – when he returned.
Germany was a little surprised to see that there were no lights or even the TV on when he came home. Prussia was usually watching a movie this time of the evening. Even if he was in the basement or had gone out drinking, he tended to forget everything on. It was a good thing he wasn't in the habit of cooking or the house would have no doubt burnt to the ground years ago.
He rubbed his eyes as he walked to the fridge and took out a beer. At least there was still some left. He had lost count how many times he had come home, exhausted after the day's work, only to discover that Prussia had drunk every bottle. It wasn't a big deal, but little things like that got under his skin when he was tired.
And to be honest, Prussia could have been a little more considerate. He had what no other nation before him had had – he was free of all responsibilities and could do anything he wanted. He could enjoy his immortality in a way that the rest of them would never experience. With all that time on his hands, it would have been nice if he cleaned up his own mess sometimes, took out the trash without asking or got a part-time job and contributed to the expenses.
Germany opened the door to the basement and took a look inside. Nobody there. Prussia must have gone out.
He let out a content sigh and walked to the living room, grateful that he'd get to enjoy the rest of the evening in peace. He'd drink his beer, relax by reading a few pages from a good book and go to bed early. He'd probably have to leave the front door unlocked in case Prussia had forgotten his keys again, but it was a good neighbourhood, so he wasn't worried.
Germany didn't see Prussia the next morning, which was no surprise. He always slept until the afternoon when he had been out. Germany made sure there was something he could heat in the microwave before he grabbed his things and hurried to another meeting.
When he got back, the house was once again dark and cold. One look in the fridge told him that nothing had been touched, not even the beer. That was unusual, so he knocked on the door to the basement.
"Prussia? Are you alright?"
No answer. He pushed the door open and was surprised to find the room empty. It didn't look like anyone had slept in the bed that night. All the clothes on the floor and the scattered game and DVD cases on the shelf were exactly the way from the previous day.
Germany sighed. The least Prussia could have done was tell him if he was going to stay with someone. He could only hope he wasn't imposing on anyone or causing trouble. All of his friends in Europe had their hands full.
He decided to call him, just in case. He dug out his phone and was already back in the kitchen and opening a cupboard to make some coffee when he realised that the Prussian anthem was playing in the house. He followed the tune back to the basement and saw that Prussia's phone was on his bed.
Wonderful. Prussia had disappeared who knew where and hadn't even taken his phone with him.
Next, he decided to try Romano's number. The two of them still didn't get along, but the ice had thawed somewhat when he had got together with Prussia. Germany wasn't sure just how in the world that had happened, but he was glad his brother had someone in his life. There had been times when he had worried that he was lonely.
"What the fuck do you want?" Romano said as he picked up the phone.
"Is Prussia there?"
"No, and good thing he isn't because if he were, I'd kick his ass all the way to Australia. Why the hell hasn't he replied to any of my texts?"
"He hasn't been home since yesterday, and he forgot his phone. I just wanted to know if he came to see you," Germany said.
"Well, he's not here. And I don't want him to be. I don't give a fuck where he is right now. Tell him that he most definitely shouldn't call me when you get a hold of him, got it?" Romano ranted and hung up before Germany could reply.
Next, he tried France. Then Spain. Then Denmark, America, Japan, Finland and finally even Austria and Russia. Nobody had seen Prussia or knew where he could be. It was like he had suddenly dropped off the face of Earth. But that couldn't be. A person like Prussia didn't just disappear. He was always at the centre of attention.
There was no reason to get worried. It had been just two days, and there had been nothing in the news about mayhem being caused anywhere in Germany. Maybe Prussia had human friends he was staying with.
Despite these reassuring thoughts, Germany couldn't quite get rid of the nagging feeling at the pit of his stomach. It was strange not to know where Prussia was. Usually he was always there, even when he wasn't actually wanted. The house was so large and quiet without his music, movies or chatter.
Germany finished making his coffee. As he was about to open the fridge to get some milk, his eyes fell on something that he hadn't noticed before. Amongst all the reminders he had left Prussia about the dogs, the trash, the mailman and other things, there was a note that he most definitely hadn't written.
He removed the magnet that covered most of the text and started reading. When he was finished, he read it again. And then again, just to be sure that he had understood every word.
What was this? What the hell was this? It didn't make any sense, except in one way, and that couldn't be. That was impossible. He was just jumping to conclusions. Because Prussia couldn't possibly write something like this and mean it that way.
The coffee forgotten, he took a seat and placed the note before him on the table. He kept reading it over and over again and trying to analyse it, but no matter how he looked at it, he could think of only one explanation.
It sounded as if Prussia had known he was fading away and had written this note as a goodbye. But that was absurd! He had been just fine the other day. Surely he would have said something if... Germany would have noticed something. He should have noticed.
He couldn't think straight. He needed to talk to someone who had more experience in matters like this and would know what to do.
His hands were shaking as he picked up his phone and chose Austria's number again. It took an agonizingly long while before he answered.
"What is it now? I was just in the middle of Chopin's –"
"How can you tell when a nation dies? What do they leave behind?"
There was a moment of silence on the other end. Then finally, in a careful voice, "Why are you asking?"
"If a nation is dying, can they feel it beforehand?" Maybe... maybe if he compiled a checklist of all normal symptoms and compared it with Prussia's recent behaviour, he could determine whether he had any reason to worry.
"I'd say that would depend on the manner of dying. Some nations have died in battle when their lands have been taken over and annexed by others. Others fade away as a result of contracts or when their people stop identifying with –"
"Could that happen to Prussia?"
"Why are you asking all these questions? Has something happened? Did you find him?"
"No, but he left me a note. It worries me," Germany said. He read it out loud to Austria and waited for his reply.
Austria hummed in thought. "That's a little unusual, even for him."
"I don't know what to think. I know it can't be true, but I just don't know what to do right now." Why was it that his brother always got him into situations like this? Germany did his best to organize his life so that there was a time and place for everything, but Prussia always ruined his careful plans somehow.
"You don't have to do anything. I'll catch a flight to Berlin," Austria said.
"No, you shouldn't. It's not necessary. I –"
"I'm coming," Austria insisted in that tone that always made Germany think that he was treating him like a child. It was times like this that he remembered how much older Austria was than him. He had seen so much more.
"Alright," he agreed. With all that history, surely Austria would know what to do.
"I should be there in a couple of hours. Have you told anyone else?"
"No, not yet."
"Then don't. It won't do to jump to conclusions and cause needless panic. This isn't necessarily as bad as it sounds. For all we know, this is one of his tasteless jokes."
It was these words that Germany clung to for the next three hours. He drove to the airport in a daze, and it was a surprise he didn't cause an accident. Austria was right. It was stupid to worry so soon. On the other hand, it bothered him that Austria had picked the fastest flight and not the cheapest.
"Do you have the note?" Austria asked as soon as he arrived from the luggage claim area.
"Here," Germany said and handed it over.
Austria spent a moment reading the note. Germany tried to guess what he was thinking, but his face remained devoid of any signs of emotion. Finally, he gave the note back to Germany.
"It's his handwriting. He used to send me obscene letters back when that was the fastest means of communication. Nobody else scrawls like this," he said.
"I know he wrote it," Germany said. "But what does it mean?"
"That depends on whether it's a joke or not. If it is, it could possibly mean that Prussia is suffering from loneliness and trying to get attention this way. All things considered, it wouldn't surprise me. It's a textbook case of immature, rebellious behaviour. Children run away from home when they think their parents don't love them enough and –"
"And if it's not a joke?"
"Then he's probably dead."
Germany was sure that his feet would give in under him. No. That couldn't be. Prussia couldn't be gone. Not like this and not without a warning. There had been no signs. He had been just fine. He was just fine. He just didn't know where he was.
"It has been only two days," he said.
Austria nodded. "True," he admitted. "It's perhaps too early to say anything definite yet."
"How can you be so calm? Prussia could be dead, and you act like it's nothing!" True, Prussia and Austria weren't the best of friends, but Germany had always thought that their bitter rivalry had long since turned into some form of mutual respect and a sense of belonging, even if neither of them would ever admit it.
"Don't get me wrong. I'm not happy that he might be dead. In fact, I brought my violin with me. But this is not new to me. There used to be so many Germanic nations like us, and I've seen them all fall," Austria explained.
"So, Prussia is just one in a crowd for you?"
"Of course not," Austria said, his face softening. "But someone needs to keep a clear head. I'm simply volunteering to be that person. And that is why I suggest that I drive."
"I'm fine," Germany said. In fact, he was surprised by the lack of... anything.
Austria picked up his bags and motioned for him to show the way to the car. "That's simply because you haven't yet realised what this means. It doesn't feel concrete without a body. And you're overworked and tired." He paused for a moment. "You've never lost anyone, have you?"
"We don't know if he's dead yet," Germany reminded him. Maybe Austria was wrong and this was all a joke after all. Maybe Prussia would be at home waiting for him. He'd fall on the floor laughing once he saw that he had actually called Austria over because of his trick.
But the house was exactly the way he had left it. The dogs greeted them at the door, and as he turned on the light in the kitchen, he saw that it was as spotless as that morning. If Prussia had been there, there would have been crumbs all over or he would have forgotten to put the milk back in the fridge.
Austria took a seat at the table. "So. When did you last see him?"
"Just the other night. He was watching a movie when I came home."
"And was there anything out of the ordinary?"
"Not that I can think of. He's usually watching TV or playing something when I get back. We talked a little about the meeting, and then I went to bed." Germany made coffee and took out half a cake from the fridge as he spoke. He had bought it at the bakery. Lately, he had been so busy that he just hadn't had the time to bake anything himself.
"Then I really don't –"
"Wait, there was something else."
He put the plate down. His hands suddenly felt weak.
"He said he wouldn't have to be anywhere the following day. I only thought it meant he had no plans, but what if..." Germany sat down and stared at his hands. What if Prussia had meant that it was his last evening alive, that he would be gone the next day?
"Why didn't he say anything to me?" he continued. "If he knew he was dying, why didn't he ask for help? Why did he keep it all to himself?"
"I'm not surprised," Austria said. "He was proud and stubborn. I'm sure that at first he simply ignored all the signs and pretended that everything was fine. When he could no longer do that, he decided to stand alone until the end so that you wouldn't worry or pity him. He probably thought it was for the best."
"That's ridiculous! How could he think that? I'm his brother! I should be there when he needs me!"
But as much as Germany wanted to deny it, Austria's words made sense. That was exactly what Prussia would do if he was dying. He'd be so wrapped up in acting tough and not making him worry that he'd entirely forget that he loved him and that it would break his heart to be excluded that way. Was Prussia really so stupid that he thought this was the right thing to do? When he came home, Germany would definitely –
No, he wouldn't. Because if this was true, Prussia wasn't coming back.
"Hell..." he muttered and rubbed his forehead. What was he supposed to do? His mind was suddenly empty like he had been struck in the head. He hadn't given Prussia much thought lately, but now that he wasn't there, it was as if he had nothing to hold onto.
His eyes fell on the clock on the ceiling.
"It's getting late," he said. "I have a meeting tomorrow. I haven't prepared anything. I have to –"
"You won't attend. They can make it without you for a while."
"You're going to bed. You'll only cause more trouble if you wear yourself out. We'll talk more in the morning."
Germany knew he should have objected. The situation in Europe rested on his shoulders. He had to take care of everything. But he realised he was just so tired. He couldn't deal with anything that was happening around him. Without any further arguments, he let Austria shove him into his bedroom.
But once he was in bed, he couldn't fall asleep. He kept thinking back to the past few weeks and analysing every word he had exchanged with Prussia. To his dismay, there weren't that many of them. He had been so busy lately, and Prussia had usually been still in bed when he had got up and gone to work. By the time he had come back, his brother had been out drinking or playing his games in the basement.
Guilt tugged at his heart. Had he been so busy that he had failed to notice that something was wrong with Prussia? Had Prussia felt lonely in his last moments? Had it hurt? Had he regretted not telling anyone?
He hadn't even told Romano, Germany realised. He had been all alone.
Germany had the sudden urge to grab the phone and call Italy. He needed to talk to someone, but at the same time he had no idea what to say. He still couldn't quite understand everything that had happened. It was as if there were so many emotions bottled up inside him, but he just didn't know how to feel them right.
He should sleep. Once he had had his rest, he could take a logical look at the situation and decide what to do. He was in control. He'd just empty his mind and fall asleep right away. That had to work.
Some time around midnight, he heard how Austria started to play the violin in the guestroom.