Bonus chapters added in 2013: Chapter Sixteen, False Hope.
Also added: Historical notes! Yay! (*Totally has not been meaning to add them since the beginning and has only just got around to it*)
Once upon a time, I had the idea to write a fic chronicling Prussia and Hungary's relationship from medieval to modern times. It was kind of stupid and crazy, but so am I, so I wrote it. It turned out to be more Prussia-centric (because Prussia does not simply not be the main character of anything I write), and this fic covers his personal growth from 1188 to 2000. I also add bonus chapters every now and then because I have an inability to let things rest when I've finished them.
The title, 'Preussenlied', was the national anthem of Prussia and literally means 'song of Prussia'. It's a bit pretentious so I wasn't going to use it, but it stuck in my head and every time I thought about this it came up as Preussenlied. So eventually I gave in and let it be the title. It's basically Prussia's story anyway, so it seemed to fit.
Hetalia belongs to Hidekaz Himaruya, not me, or I wouldn't be writing fanfics about it.
1188 - Somewhere in Eastern Europe
When Prussia first sees the little brown-haired kid in the forest, he mistakes him for Lithuania. And, using tried and true strategies developed in the many situations in which he's found Lithuania, he attacks.
Thirty seconds later, his face is in the dirt and the kid is sitting on top of him, pulling his arms behind his back in ways he's sure they shouldn't be able to bend. Although the events leading up to this unforeseen predicament are somewhat of a fast-paced, painful blur, he's sure of two things: firstly, that if he doesn't let go of his arms then they're going to break, and secondly, this kid cannot possibly be Lithuania.
"Mrrgrffmr..." he says angrily, his voice muffled by grass and mud.
The kid lets his arms drop, grabs his hair and pulls his head back out of the dirt. "Who are you?" he demands.
Now that's a question. If it wasn't for the fact that he was too busy wincing in pain, he would've smiled. "I am the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem," he announces. "Also known as the Teutonic Order."
He snorts a laugh. "You got a nickname?"
"You," he says, "may call me Prussia."
"And you," says the kid, mimicking his grandiose tone, "may call me Magyarorszag."
"Jeez, that's a mouthful."
"Call me Hungary if you can't wrap your brain around it."
"Hungary..." says Prussia, testing the name on his tongue. He always thought he had Europe mostly worked out; he wonders why he hasn't run into this kid before. "Are you a new nation?"
"Hardly. I've been official for..." There's a pause as he counts on his fingers. "...Almost three centuries now. But-" he yanks harder on Prussia's hair, "-I'm the one asking the questions here. Why did you attack me?"
There's no reason not to tell the truth. None that he can see, anyway. "I thought you were Lithuania."
"Lithuania?" Hungary sounds surprised. "I know him. He's nice. Are you at war with him or something?"
Prussia laughs. "Nah, nothing like that. He's just fun to pick on. Look, are you gonna get off me or am I just supposed to lie here and get crushed into dust?"
There's a moment of indecision, but then Hungary seems to decide he's safe to release. Prussia winces at the variety of new bruises he has as he climbs to his feet and gets a good look at Hungary for the first time. His hair is similar to Lithuania's - he's even wearing it in the same sort of ponytail - but his face is different. It's fine-featured and green-eyed, remarkably well-structured for someone so young. If it wasn't for the suspicious, battle-ready frown, he would've looked almost feminine.
"So what were you doing out here anyway?" asks Prussia, rubbing the back of his head where handfuls of hair had almost been ripped from his scalp.
Hungary looks for a moment like he's about to deflect the question, but then shrugs and says, "I was hunting."
"Really? Me too!" Perhaps this was an opportunity to make a new ally. After all, this Hungary kid was tougher than he looked. "How about we team up and double our awesomeness?"
The other nation considers him for a moment with folded arms, as though judging whether he'll be of any help or just hold him back. "Okay," he says eventually. "You can come."
Prussia gives him a wide smile and shoves his arm through Hungary's, using his free hand to point towards the horizon. "Onwards, then! To victory!"
"Oi!" Hungary tries to struggle free, but Prussia isn't having any of it. This new nation might be faster than him but he's certainly much stronger. He locks their arms together and takes off towards the woods at full speed, dragging his reluctant new hunting partner behind him.
An hour later, Hungary is stomping towards him with his bow in his hands and murder in his eyes. "No! What the hell are you doing? That's not how you hunt!"
Prussia skids to a halt mid-charge and spins around. Behind him, the deer bounds away into the trees and is lost from view. "Eh?"
"You won't catch anything just charging at it like that!" He reaches the centre of the clearing and plants his fists on his hips. Even drawn up to his full height, Prussia notes with some satisfaction, Hungary is still a few inches shorter than him.
"What are you talking about? I catch stuff like that all the time!"
"What stuff? Lithuania?"
"Not just him!" protests Prussia, quailing under his steely glare. "...Sometimes I fight Poland as well."
Hungary sighs and rubs his temples. "If you're going to catch wild animals, you have to be quiet. Stealthy. Sneak through the trees and take one out with a single arrow before any of them notice you."
"But that's no fun," protests Prussia.
"Hunting's not about having fun! It's about getting food!"
"Your method doesn't sound like it works up much of an appetite."
"At least it doesn't let half of Europe know I'm coming from a mile off."
Prussia grins and makes a sweeping gesture at his angry little partner. "Alright, then. Show me this Hungarian hunting technique if it's so good."
Despite himself, Hungary can't help but grin back. He spins around and strides back off towards the trees to hide it, but it's there alright. "Watch and learn, Prussia."
It takes them a while to find a new herd of deer, since all the animals in the vicinity seemed to have been scared off by Prussia's charge. But Hungary is the picture of patience; he stalks through the forest so silently he might as well have been floating, making occasional gestures for Prussia to stay well back. He's happy to just watch the way Hungary moves, so smoothly and quietly, sliding almost fluidly through the trees without even breaking so much as a twig under his boots. He spots a new herd of deer and moves slowly towards them, sticking to the undergrowth so as not to be seen. There's a strange grace about him as he stalks his prey, something that makes it impossible for Prussia to tear his eyes away. His face is the picture of focused concentration as he crouches as near to the deer as he dares. He nocks an arrow, draws it and holds, aiming carefully, before letting it fly.
One of the deer drops dead instantly, an arrow protruding from its eye. The others turn tail and flee.
"And that," says Hungary, striding into the clearing to retrieve his arrow, "is how it's done." He wipes the shaft on his tunic and spins around with a smile so dazzling it takes Prussia a moment to put together a reply.
"That... that was awesome, actually," he admits. "But I still think my way's better."
Hungary raises an amused eyebrow. "Do you now?"
"'Course I do."
"Go on then, go and kill something. Get it first shot and I'll consider taking you seriously."
Prussia grins lopsidedly and tucks his thumbs into his belt. "Nah, I think I'll call it a day now. I've got loads of food back home."
"Why am I not surprised to hear that?" Hungary sighs, but it's not unfriendly. "Alright then. If you help me carry this," he jerks a thumb at the deer still lying sprawled behind him, "then I might let you come hunting with me again."
That is first meeting of Prussia and Hungary, but certainly not the last. They never set dates or meeting points - they just seem to run into each other in the forest, and those regular encounters turn into hunting trips or, as time passes and they become closer, just time to spend in each other's company. Hungary teaches Prussia how to stalk prey and aim properly with a bow and arrow and Prussia teaches Hungary about this new continent he's found himself in. As it turns out, Hungary understands very little about the world - he knows his people, his forest and a few of the surrounding nations, but three centuries is not a long time to exist for. Prussia is far from omniscient, but he likes to think he knows something of the world and imparts that knowledge onto Hungary as best he can.
One autumn evening, Prussia is practising the new techniques Hungary has taught him alone in the forest. He still makes noise when he moves and his aim is less than perfect, but he's making improvements and Hungary's pride in his new hunting apprentice is enough to keep him working at his skills. He sees a dark spot in a pile of orange, brown and golden leaves and sets his sights on it; it's as good a target as any.
He stalks closer, trying to scan the ground in front of him and keep his eyes on his prey at the same time. Hungary always made it look effortless, but Prussia had none of his remarkable natural grace. I could still kick his arse in a wrestling match, he tells himself, but he's learnt that brute strength means nothing unless your opponent is intending to fight back. In a proper hunt, it's worthless.
He's only twenty feet away from the pile of leaves now, crouched over and moving as slowly as he dares. That should do it. He takes his bow from his back and nocks an arrow. Then he stands up, straightening his back like Hungary taught him, pulls back the string...
And, for the first time, gets a good look at what the dark spot amongst the leaves actually is.
He's so surprised he almost lets the arrow fly, but catches himself at the last second. He shoves it back into his quiver and runs over, all thoughts of stealth gone from his mind.
Hungary is not dead, as he had originally thought. He is lying in the pile of soft leaves, curled into a ball with his head resting on his hands. His chest moves slowly in and out in the slow rhythm of someone deeply asleep, and he's smiling. It's only a small smile, but it's so peaceful he wonders what he's dreaming about. The light filters through the treetops and the shadows play with the creases in his cheeks and between his eyebrows, doing things with the soft planes of his face that entrance Prussia.
Hungary shifts suddenly and he jumps back, suddenly scared, but he only mumbles something sleepy and unintelligible and rolls over onto his other side. As he settles back into silent stillness, Prussia notices that a clump of golden-brown hair has come out of his ponytail and is falling across his face. Before he knows what he's doing, Prussia leans down and, more carefully than he's ever hunted any deer, brushes it back behind his ear. He stays bent over for a few more seconds, a tiny smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
Hungary's eyelids flutter, and, quick as a flash, Prussia turns and flees.
A few years later, new feelings begin to make sense in the most horrifying way possible.
In one of his cathedrals, Prussia crouches in front of the altar and feels the accusing gazes of the statues and portraits burn into his back. Reliving the memory is painful and embarrassing and makes him so guilty he wonders why he hasn't been damned to hell yet, but at the very least he has to apologise. He clasps his hands together so tightly his knuckles turn white and screws his eyes shut.
Okay, God, he thinks, let me start off by saying I never actually meant any of it. How was I to know she was a... a... a not-boy? She didn't even know herself! You couldn't possibly expect me to... to... He bites his lip and sighs. Is this as awkward for you as it is for me? Look, all I'm trying to say is that I'm sorry for my... sinful... behaviour. She said she had a weak point, and she never reveals stuff like that normally... I just had to... check. I didn't know what I was doing. It was an accident! I'll never touch her again, I swear! Just please don't smite me or anyth-
A hand lands on his shoulder and he jumps a mile.
"Cool it, it's just me," says Hungary.
He forces himself to take a few deep breaths before reply. "Oh... H-Hungary, hey..."
"What are you doing?" she asks, staring around at the high ceilings and grand architecture of the cathedral with a slightly confused look on her face.
"Nothing," he says quickly. "Look, about... about that time you told me you were feeling weak..." She doesn't get it. He winces, trying to skirt the details. "You know, when I... I..."
Realisation dawns on her face and she laughs at him. "Oh, that. Don't worry about it. I know."
"You... you know? Um... how much?"
"All of it," she says. "I had an extremely enlightening conversation with one of my doctors."
For once in his life, he's lost for words. "Oh."
But then all her bravado seems to drain away. Her shoulders slump, her face falls and she collapses onto one of the pews, her chin in her hands. "I knew there was a reason why I was so much weaker," she says, staring at the stone floor as though wishing she could sink into it. "I'll never be like you guys. I'm stuck like this forever." She sighs and blows a strand of hair escaped from her ponytail out of her face. "Sucks, doesn't it?"
But as Prussia watches the hair float back down to rest lightly over one of her wide green eyes, her eyelashes making it flutter as she blinks, he can't quite bring himself to agree.
The origin of Prussia is actually kind of interesting. He had quite an unusual start to life. Back during the Crusades in the twelfth century, there were these German merchants that started a field hospital during the Siege of Acre because the Pope said that only Germans could treat other Germans for some reason. They called themselves the Teutonic Order and, because you know what Gilbert's like, pretty soon they got sick of treating injuries and decided to start causing them instead. Still not a country, by the way. They became an order of religious knights who raised hell in the Holy Land and ran around with lots of sharp pointy metal things in Europe for the next two centuries. And since they only stuck their sharp pointy metal things in enemies of the Catholic Church, the Pope gave them a whole bunch of holdings as a reward. So how did he end up becoming a country all of his own? Blame Poland. He was like, totally having trouble with these pagans called the Old Prussians next door, so he invited the Teutonic Knights to come and have a little chat with them. Since the Old Prussians were, of course, pagan, the Holy Roman Empire sent them a memo saying that they would be extremely interested in something in the other direction for the next fifty years and if something were to happen to those Old Prussian guys then perhaps it wouldn't be too big a tragedy. Half a century later, the Teutonic Knights had a country all of their own. Which wasn't actually called Prussia. It was called 'Ordensstaat'. But that's weird, so we'll call him Prussia.
Hungary's turn! She started out as a group of nomads called the Magyars who conquered the Carpathian Basin (basically Hungary) in 895. They were famous for being awesome archers (and you thought these notes had nothing to do with the chapter). Though they'd been nomadic pretty much forever, they'd realised that they needed to settle down and found a state if they were going to have any chance of surviving in a Europe dominated by powerful kingdoms and empires. They converted to Christianity to make friends with the Holy Roman Empire and actually got pretty enthusiastic about it. Her history hasn't been quite as eventful as Prussia's yet anyway, though it has been simpler. Nothing's ever easy with the German states, is it?
After this first meeting, Hungary and the Teutonic Knights had a somewhat rocky relationship. She invited him in to help with a Cuman problem she was having and he basically ignored her and did whatever the hell he wanted because hey, are you the Pope? Didn't think so. They also had a spat over who owned Burzenland (Hungary promised it to Prussia but he pissed her off so she tried to take it back, and they spent the next decade or so bickering about it. But then he went through hell defending it for her when the Ottomans attacked in the fifteenth century, so that was nice. In a really awful sort of way.) But despite their diplomatic disagreements, they were both pretty wild and oddly similar so I think they would've been friends, at least on a personal level.
Thanks for reading, and please leave a review!