A/N: I really am sorry for being away for so long, but in my defense I have been preoccupied. There is this provincial prose contest I wanted to enter, so I took the time to write it out, with a lot of hours of Star Trek and The Office and my new Call of Duty PC game that took a while to configure because you know, er... I got it for free and all *cough*
Also, has anyone been watching the Olympics? Two words: Goooooo China! Also, Germany is doing pretty well- and of course, America's swim team is as badass as usual. It's such a shame that they're not airing fencing or badminton or ping pong for that sake on the channels that broadcast the Olympics where I am.
Anyway in this Act, Prussia has returned from Spain due to diplomatic recall, and he finds that Italy has actually decided to come to Berlin early.
(The next Act will chronicle the revolution within the ranks of the Wehrmacht as Hitler begins purging his top generals and then makes himself the head of the Armed Forces, while the first stages of the Anschluss (the annexing of Austria into Germany) begin.)
Read and review! I always welcome feedback!
Act Four: In Discordia
It really was no longer a question of doubt but more like a question of definite finality- and despite the fact that Prussia knew in the back of his mind that there was certainly something wrong- something very, very wrong and the actions he had been involuntarily seized with were only a hinted whisper of the calm before the storm- he kept it away and refused to even as much move a figurative finger over those scattered thoughts. He refused to deny that they were there obviously, because delusion was always a drug he refused to take- but in a way, he also refused to acknowledge the existence of such malice that had started to contaminate him as much as it refused to acknowledge the side of his sanity. It was a poisonous vine that threatened to strangulate his reason. It was in a sense, like an invading pariah that refused to leave no matter what he tried.
But in truth, there was not much Gilbert could do about it in any case. It was clear that this thing was linked with the growth and domination of the Nazi Party, and unless the Nazis would be eradicated (cutting the cause at its root) it would continue to grow and conquer, like it had already done so with Ludwig. He could only deduce that the only reason why he had not been taken over yet was his own reluctance to accept the new government form and his own disgust at their doctrines- not to mention the fact that he was technically not a country proper anymore which lead to the weakening of national influences.
A nation after all, was what their people were, and none of them had the means to defy the logical edict. If Germany's people accepted the military dictatorship then Germany himself would become what his people thought the country was in their minds. They had no blame of deciding who they were to be and not, and if Prussia was changing now- no matter how slow the transfiguration- he could not deny that it was not his fault directly, but what made up his being.
Thoughts were stronger than most people would think they were, but then again, thoughts overall were what decided the fates of nations and their general destiny. Nations were born with unified thoughts of a constitution, and they died when that constitution would prove no more- when the people had scrapped the thoughts from their minds and therefore taking away the country's purpose that he or she was supposed to serve in the world. They evolved with the process of thought that dictated the order of society, and they would change along with whatever the people as a whole became.
In the end, there really was nothing that he could do. Gilbert couldn't order what came to be, nor what his people thought, nor the changing tides of whatever time would bring on him. He couldn't order the sets to be taken apart and he couldn't order the curtain of the current Acts to be drawn. He could only watch and speculate, and endure whatever he had to at the hands of those who governed him as a whole.
So really, it was amazing how little control a country had over how their own histories would play out.
The days passed like the winds of a desert storm- fast, but stricken with a high potential of calamity. The numbness associated with command and the relief at finding a place where he could actually talk to some who understood his own thoughts erased much of the distress that had been eating away at his brain, for Prussia was one of the few who could claim that he worked better under heavy pressure than away from it where nothing but the monotony of boredom lay. This certainly made his capabilities a lot more awesomely tailored to his expectations of himself when met with last minute demands- which always rose up during a war and not too much otherwise at an office in Berlin. And not to mention people appreciated his work a lot more where he had been stationed at too, unlike a crowd of snotty bureaucrats he could name that he would be glad to shoot in the head had he been allowed it.
He hadn't seen Antonio again since the incident, and when Gilbert tried to inquire his whereabouts, apparently no one really knew either. Eventually he learned that the Spaniard had deflected from the ranks to join the Republicans in their resistance against Franco, and when he processed that fact fully, Gilbert had innerly cursed at Antonio for being a fool. Although he applauded his (ex) friend's valour and courage for fighting in what he stood for, the truth was that anyone could see the Republicans were nothing but a lost cause unless a miracle of sorts was to happen with the way things were going. There was a difference in fighting for something that one was capable of winning and something that was utterly forsaken, unless one had already gone too far in the gamble to back out. Prussia for one, tried his best at making sure that he stuck to his job instead of probing into affairs that were hardly his own to start with.
During the early days of September he received an urgent telegram from Berlin, sent by his brother himself that Gilbert was to return as soon as possible for diplomatic purposes. Apparently Hitler had finally gotten his wish that Mussolini visited his- their capital city, and he wanted all honours to be granted to the one who had inspired him to advocate the Nazi cause. That meant that Prussia had to take a plane back to Germany to greet a bastard whom he gave no damns about whatsoever and abandon his post in Spain earlier than planned. It pissed him off quite a lot, so to speak, but least Veneziano was going to be there. The last time that Gilbert remembering seeing the kid was back in WWI when Germany had reluctantly kept him as a faux prisoner of sorts in their house. The brunet had both amused him and was also capable of performing the miracle of getting Ludwig of relaxing for a few minutes, so Prussia had decided he kind of liked Italy. It was more than he could say for Romano though.
When he got back, he found Berlin laced up like some beautiful lady who tried to turn elegancies into whorish, much too overdone fashions. She was bound in a too tight gown and painted with so much make up that no one could see underneath anymore, but could not deny that this was indeed the city that had been so prominent at the center of European affairs for centuries, and even now was. Endless red flags and banners all with the black swastika strewn in the middle hung from every wall available on major streets, and even some on minor ones that were the backwaters of the city. All the places seemed to have been swept over in some kind of cleaning frenzy that took every speck of dirt out of the pavement. Pieces of statuary and plants that hadn't been there a few months ago now randomly morphed into appearance in parks or just on the sides of roads following pedestrian cluttered streets, which some (the majority) Prussia regarded as evidence of pretty poor taste among whoever designed them. Then again, he didn't have too much of an eye for such things and thought that Berlin was fine the way it was- Mussolini or no Mussolini.
"Brother." Ludwig said once they saw each other again when the Mercedes dropped Gilbert off at their residence, "Heil-"
"Oh, for Gott's sake Ludi, just forgo that for one day will ya?" Gilbert grinned, his would be annoyance almost forgotten at just seeing Germany again after nearly three months' separation. He drew the blond in a somewhat awkward hug- mainly because his brother was frozen for two seconds before it processed through his mind and he wrapped his own arms slowly around the albino's shorter frame, "Why don't you greet me as you've always had anyway? No formalities was the rule we made up."
"… I'm sorry if I appear insincere."
"None taken, brüderlein. I missed you, you know? More than I expected."
Ludwig took the joke with a raise of the eyebrow, "It is good you were able to report in so soon. I thought that you might not be here for a good day or two at least."
"Never. Punctuality at stuff is part of what makes me awesome."
"Good," blue eyes flickered to the house, and they seemed almost absent, "…very good."
If Prussia hadn't known his brother better than that, he wouldn't have caught that flash of something that jumped across his face that resembled almost uneasiness at something- that something though, still unknown. It was something that transpired in half a second and then was gone as fast as it had appeared, replaced with the usual blank look. But Gilbert had known his brother for over two centuries- and hell, raised him to who he was. He knew at that instant that there was something nagging at Ludwig's side, and a selfishly perverse part of him crowed an inner victory at seeing Germany's impassiveness drop for a while, even if it were as short as it were.
Red eyes narrowed as a small smirk dangled on the side of Prussia's lips, "Why, I haven't seen that look in a while. What's bothering you?"
"Nothing much in particular, but…" the blond cleared his throat a little and said a few words that ended up explaining everything, "Italy has… decided to humor us with his presence earlier than the official date in which the Duce is set to arrive in Berlin, his reason being that he was too excited to wait (as he puts it). I fear, brother, that he is as persistent as ever in his… " here, he paused a bit as if trying to find the right word. After all, Ludwig had always viewed the common human way to fill in the gap with an "uh" or an "umm…" as slightly unprofessional, "… his antics."
Right. That which made Italy what he was: his romanticism, his uselessness when faced with someone who threatened harm, and his- as Ludwig had so kindly put it- antics. It was a serious fluke that the kid could call Rome his grandfather, let alone any nation that was even competent. Prussia had expected someone more with an overseas Empire like England and a brilliant army like his to be the heir to one of the greatest nations that history had produced, not a pasta making fool who actually refused to go from captivity because German POW food was supposedly better than what they had for rations in the actual army. And just when Prussia thought he had seen all he had to know about warfare, he added a small note- scratch that- a gigantic sentence in his mind stating that whatever Italian he had in the army would always be pushed to the auxiliaries. Feliciano was just… different, that was all.
"I see." The albino said, and he really did in fact, see. It was hard not to pity his brother, but at the same time he felt like he deserved it for shoving so much paperwork onto an innocent for no reason at all.
"Pray tell, what exactly?"
"A lot of things. What's he done in the last few days that make it sound like you've been dying many times over?"
Germany sighed, and ran a hand through his perfectly gelled back hair, "I do not care to name them all, but note his most amazing exploit so far was that he tried to activate a grenade by throwing the pin and keeping the actual grenade in his mouth."
"Wow, that's new." The older sibling didn't try to hold back a snicker, but slowly he was connecting two and two in his head and working out a way to kill two birds with one stone, so to say, "Testing immortality to its limits, nein? I assume that you saved him."
"I am at a lost at how to proceed. I do not wish to harm any political ties between our countries, so I have my hands tied…And we should go back in, brother. Italy had the good graces at least to make some tea. Also, I am tired."
"Hey West, wait." Prussia slung an arm across Ludwig's shoulders and grinned his familiar, thoroughly arrogant smirk, "I'm a kind man. I'll take him off your hands until the bald rat gets his ass" (he ignored the fixed glare that Ludwig sent his way) "from Rome to here. What do you say?"
It took Germany no less than two seconds to nearly jump up (not literally) in relief. Gilbert almost wished to torture his little brother longer just to squeeze more satisfaction into the awaited kill.
"That would be most appreciated. You have honestly no idea how much this means to me as a whole-"
"I actually do, and that's the thing." he folded his arms smugly, "Do my paperwork for a month as payment, okay West?"
Berlin's streets and shops were mostly cluttered by this time of the day, but his uniform and Italy's both took care of most of the crowd problem, which parted for them quite easily as they passed through. Beside him, the shorter nation kept up a constant stream of chatter that had not abandoned the two of them since they had left Ludwig behind at the house, most likely with a serious migraine of sorts that lately had not seemed willing to leave him. Gilbert understood why now at least. While he didn't really care about the presence of the constant talk (being quite an extrovert himself on the matter) it would have been a living hell for an extreme introvert like Ludwig. Probably was comparable to a drill being constantly screwed into his skull, day by day and everyday- and the fact that Italy really couldn't care less about regulations and protocol, bohemian spirit he was, was like the cherry on top of the Molotov cocktail.
But the strange phenomenon was that Ludwig was the most open to Feliciano directly after his interactions with his own brother, so Gilbert had observed and made a note of. If that wasn't oxymoronic he didn't know exactly what was. Oh well. What could he say?
"Ludwig hasn't shown me much of Berlin." Italy said as they passed by an art store, "He's always so busy… but I try to help. He likes my pasta a lot."
"Hopefully. I can't speak for everyone though."
"Yeah, I suppose though I tend to forget to regard that triviality."
"Ludwig said that once too during training, " Feliciano looked as though he was trying to remember something, "And that everyone should properly be of one mind and-"
Damn. Something else, anything else.
"Uh… that's nice. I'm afraid that my bother can be a tight assed workaholic 95% of the time he's awake and breathing."
The Italian just looked confused.
"Hey, it's fine." Gilbert conveniently changed the subject like planned, "So how do you like what you've seen so far?"
"Ve? I think that the food's kind of limited and the art is not as good as it is in Italy."
Feliciano really should have been glad he was as he was, and that Prussia understood that he only said it because he didn't really know better. At least the kid wasn't terrified of him anymore as he was back then, and he would have really preferred to keep present status quo.
So instead of some barbed insult, he replied, "Yeah, but… never mind. Anything else? You know… positive?"
The Italian paused for a second, "Your women are nice, but some of them scare me. They called me an… entzückende Miezekatze and started giggling, but then Ludwig said something to them quite sternly but he wouldn't tell me what they said. "
Oh, Gott. The German felt a massive smirk envelope his face, and tried not to bark out a laugh or anything similar at the statement. Figures that Feli would be called that by a bunch of chicks, but the funny part was obviously Ludwig's inability to say something of the sort out loud. He had this… moral code of sorts that was outdated by at least two hundred years even though Gilbert knew perfectly well about what kind of stuff he kept around for amusement. Didn't ever tell him though.
"Hm… why don't you try to ask Ludwig that again? And ask him what a Runde tanzen is too, but don't tell him I said it."
"Okay, but wouldn't that be lying?" the Italian asked curiously, "I don't want to lie to Ludwig."
"No, no. It doesn't count when all my intentions are pure." Not. "But ditch it if it makes you uncomfortable."
"Can I? You won't be mad at me, right?"
"Hey, I gave you a second option…" Prussia paused, suddenly slightly uneasy, "But hey, I uh… take it back. West probably won't be too glad if he heard you do that and the would try to murder me if he found out that I put you up to it."
"That's good. I know you understand this more than anyone, Prussia- but he's my best friend and kind of my only one besides big brother France, who doesn't talk to me anymore. I want him to be happy."
"Kind of you to say." Great. Now he really did feel kind of guilty.
It was undeniable that it was odd to speak to someone like that about the subject. Talking to Feli on such matters was kind of like trying to communicate with some perpetual virgin from a convent… but in this case, Italy wasn't exactly a virgin. Prussia would bet his life on the fact. Also, he had an uncanny sense of making the German feel bad over shit like no one else did.
They stopped at the famous site of the Lustgarten because Italy both wanted a little break and he was also fascinated by the Berliner Dom that dominated over most of the site. The brunet took out a sketchbook from the bag he carried around and sketched a picture of the structure while Gilbert watched from the corner of his eye, slightly jealous that he couldn't do anything when it involved artistic ability. He could draw maps and battle formations on paper just fine, but that was kind of it. What Italy couldn't do on the battlefield (almost everything) he made up for off, and speaking the honest truth Gilbert just couldn't really see Feli holding an assault rifle and killing people he had no real quarrel against aside from the fact that they were born in the wrong place at the wrong time. In other words, he saw the other nation's value as a friend, but hardly an ally. They couldn't afford weak allies, but at least that would be better than to have someone against them, wasn't it?
But if there were to be a potential war- if there were to be a conflict that were to engulf the entire world as they knew it-
Gilbert shook his head and temporarily dismissed those thoughts. Maybe just for a moment he could try and think of something else. After all, he was supposed to be happy today, not clogged up in a depressing gloom. Fuck the world for once.
Still, Italy's words replayed over and over again in his head- I want him to be happy. I want him to be happy…
I want him to be happy too, he confessed only to nothing but whatever constituted Mother Earth and the Sky, But does Ludwig still care?
Truth to be told, I'm not exactly proud of the chapter, but I don't hate it either so to speak. I've been requested some brotherly moments between our two favourite Germans, so I tried to incorporate it in as much as I could with the issues surrounding them- and then, there was Italy. I tried not to make him sound too much of the annoying little bleep he is in the anime and more you know, like an actual country who's actually far older than both Prussia and Germany if we were to look at history itself, even if we were to use the HRE= Germany fact (which I agree with). Prussia just calls him a kid for the sake of it.
But if anyone were to disagree with me about it- let's look at this: in Chibitalia, there was a scene where Rome watches Veneziano paint, and it's quite obvious that he (as in, Veneziano) was born some time before that. I assume that Rome "died" during 285 CE, which was the split of West/East halves (or at 455 CE with the second and totally German Sack of Rome, which agrees with the canon fact that Germania ended Rome), and so the scene must have been some time before that. Prussia was born as the Teutonic Knights during the Crusades of the middle ages- a thousand years or so after- and HRE was officially proclaimed somewhere around the late 800's CE. Germany as a country was declared in the mid 1800's, but I assume we all believe that Prussia raised him and therefore it would be fair to assume that the only logical conclusion we can draw from this since Germany has no memories whatsoever of HRE was that the earliest "incarnation" that Germany could be was the Confederation of the Rhine- created at 1806 upon the dissolving of HRE. Therefore Italy is still older than them both, as hard as it is to believe it.
Anyway, to the Notes:
1) I believe that Nations can change their own histories certainly, but in truth they have no more power that a say- influential politician. And even they can't work miracles when things have gone too far. Think about it: what could Prussia have done to stop the Nazi regime from spreading? The answer is not much at this point, if anything at all.
2) Yes, Mercedes-Benz existed back then. Fun fact: that was the brand of Hitler's own personal car.
3) The Duce- Mussolini's title... not unlike the "Fuehrer", Brüderlein- a variation of "brother", entzückende Miezekatze- adorable kitty, Runde tanzen- lap dance. Yeah, that's Gilbert for you. No wonder he felt bad later, because Ludwig would have probably exploded in Feli's face if he asked such a thing
4) The Lustgarten or so to render it in English- "Pleasure Garden" still is there in Berlin today and is also home to the Berliner Dom, this really cool looking Rococo styled church that was sadly bombed out during WWII, but since then has been rebuilt.
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