A/N: Hello you lot! You would not believe how long it took me to write this, and even now I keep finding things that don't make sense. Oh well.
Right, so this is set after the official fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989, and it's basically one sided Prussia x Austria. It is also nothing at all like what I had planned it to be, but never mind.
A very happy new year to you all, and all the best for the year ahead. Please enjoy and review!
Disclaimer: I do not, unfortunately, own Hetalia. Or maybe that should be fortunately...
It had been weeks since the fall of the wall.
Prussia had returned from what many had thought to have been his grave looking and acting… differently. It wasn't so much his physical appearance (although he did look a little paler), but his demeanour, the way he carried himself. His eyes, if you were able to get close enough to see, had lost their spark. The greatest difference of all, though, was that since Germany had found his brother wandering the streets of East Berlin in nothing but a bed sheet, the albino hadn't said a word.
Not one word.
It had slowly driven Germany (in a figurative sense) up the wall.
"He doesn't speak, he doesn't make eye contact; mein Gott, he doesn't even nod if you ask him a simple question!" The German rose from his seat at the kitchen table and strode over to the fridge. "He just sits in his room all day, every day, he won't even talk to those stupid idiots he calls friends, and I swear to you, one of these days-" He grabbed a beer, snapped off the cap and took a weary swig.
Austria sighed and sipped his tea.
"Perhaps," he said, with an air of someone resigned to their fate, "he should come and stay with me for a while?"
Germany barked out a wry laugh. "What good do you suppose that will do?"
"Well, for one thing, he would be out from under your feet," Germany's face appeared wistful, "and for another, it might be good for him to have a change of scenery. At the very least, I can give him a room with a balcony; at least then he might endeavour to get some fresh air."
The blonde drained the rest of his beer and rubbed his chin.
"You may be right…" He turned to his companion. "Osterreich… I don't like to see mein bruder like this. If you believe it will help him-"
"-Then I have no objections. I would say that we should ask him first, but…"
Austria gave a small, regretful smile. "I know."
Austria had always had something of a soft spot for Prussia. Even during that war, when the albino made himself a right nuisance to absolutely everyone, he could never actually bring himself to hate him. He just didn't like him very much. And later, when Prussia would fill his house with rubbish, or insult his ways with finance, or dare to touch his precious piano, Austria found that although at the time he would gladly have murdered the dimwit, he would later look back on the events with… something of a certain fondness.
Eventually, he began to wonder why it was that he looked upon the human (nation) wrecking ball with more affection than he did his wife. He couldn't say that he liked the answer his mind finally came up with all that much. How could he, Roderich Edelstein, personification of the country of Austria, great empire and world power, have… feelings for such a total git? It was simply absurd.
Of course, he would never actually admit to it. Even on those lonely nights, after the war to end all wars, when he might dream, might contemplate… No. For one thing, he had a reputation to uphold. For another… Austria had to confess that he was terrified. Terrified right down to his bones; scared, not of the reactions of his fellow nations, not of how he might be looked upon, but of rejection. That was the one thing he didn't think that he could bear.
So he stayed silent. Stayed respectable. Stayed dreaming.
Then came the last war. No, not the war; the aftermath. The dissolution of Prussia; dare he even think it, his Prussia. His Gilbert. Gone forever. Or so he had thought.
When the wall finally fell, when he heard from Germany that Prussia was alive, if not at all well, it was like spring had finally come. The most beautiful, most long-awaited spring of all, heralded by fanfares and symphonies and all the other wonders known to man. He had rushed the brothers' house, perhaps with declarations on his lips, only to find his jubilation short-lived.
The blonde man who greeted him, fear in his eyes and worry on his face, was not Germany. At least, not the Germany he knew. And the man, the beautiful man, huddled in blankets in the very corner of his room, staring blankly at the walls, was not his Prussia. Not anyone's Prussia. Not now.
In time, Austria resigned himself to the possibility that whatever had happened to Prussia, whatever horrors he might have endured, whatever might have changed him to as he was now, altered beyond all recognition, might be permanent. It was a possibility that pained him with every breath he took. Yet still, somehow, he had hope.
And it was hope that led him to welcome the shell of the man known as Prussia into his home.
Weeks passed, and, to Austria's delight, progress was made.
Upon his arrival, Prussia had lived solely in the room provided for him, and although even now he still would not speak to man nor beast, the improvements were evident. Austria's steadfast devotion to Prussia's care and wellbeing finally began to pay off when, a fortnight into his residency, the albino walked into the kitchen, where a shocked and elated Austria was making tea, opened the cupboard where he knew the brunette had always kept the biscuits, and made off with the whole jar. Austria went out and bought another five packets of custard creams to celebrate.
Two days later, Austria was baking cakes for the President's wife's birthday dinner, when Prussia waltzed in, devoured all of chocolate icing, licked the bowl, burped, and left again.
Another week, and he stole half of the jam tarts for the meeting of the patrons of the Vienna State Opera.
Austria was overjoyed.
Then, one evening, Austria was just about to dish up some beef stew when Prussia wandered in, pulled some cutlery from the drawer, and began to set the table. For two. The Austrian's heart began to sink when the albino vanished out of the door again, but when he returned five minutes later with cobwebs in his hair and a bottle of vintage Styrian white in his hands, Austria could have danced around the room in glee. The simple meal shared that night seemed to Austria the best he had ever had, and it was not to be their last. Every night following, Austria would be about to serve dinner when Prussia would appear with a bottle of wine and, if the brunette was very lucky, the ghost of a smile on his lips. And although he would disappear again as soon as the dishes had been dried, Prussia left the Austrian feeling a million times happier than before.
Yes, progress was certainly made.
Almost three months after Prussia had returned, Austria sat at his piano, ploughing through a tattered copy of Chopin's nocturnes which hadn't seen the light of day in at least thirty years. He knew most by heart, of course, but it was always good practice to go over these sorts of pieces with their manuscripts at least twice a century. Just as he reached a crescendo, the door of the music room quietly creaked open as a pale figure entered and lurked by an eighteenth century mahogany sideboard. Austria heard the light footsteps and smiled to himself, seamlessly moving into the key of G major. Approximately half way through the third piece, a more morose, yet still beautiful, work of art, Austria spoke.
"If you would like to, you are welcome to join me."
Without looking behind him, he gently inclined his head towards the space on the bench next to him. After a few still moments, he heard soft footsteps approaching, and calmly played on as Prussia carefully perched on the edge of the seat, as if he felt in need of a quick getaway. As the music continued, Austria watched out of the corner of his eye as Prussia gradually seemed to relax and make himself more comfortable. As the movement came to a close, the pair were startled as the doorbell clanged and tolled throughout the house. Austria sighed and rose from his seat. He was slightly shocked to see Prussia looking up at him with panic in his eyes, and so did what came naturally: he placed a hand on the man's shoulder, crouched to his level and gave what he hoped was a reassuring smile.
"Wait here; I will return shortly."
With that he strolled out of the room, hoping that his… friend wasn't too much like his old self. After all, the piano was an antique.
When he returned, having declined the offer of double glossing or whatever it was the man wanted to do to his windows, it was not to a sight anyone would have expected to see.
Prussia was sat in exactly the same place, staring intently at the sheet music in front of him, one pale finger attempting to play the opening line of Chopin's nocturne in F# major.
Trying not to wince at the terrible cacophony and instead be thankful that this was a sign that Prussia was getting better, Austria cleared his throat.
Prussia instantaneously shot up from the bench, whirling round to face what could potentially have been his doom with his hands raised in defence and surrender in front of him, looking rather like a deer caught in the headlights. Austria, so as not to alarm his houseguest more than he already had, mirrored his body language and gave a friendly smile before slowly walking over to the other man.
"You know," he began, "that probably isn't the most appropriate of pieces for a beginner. If you so wish, I suppose, I could see if I can find a few... less demanding pieces for you to try. I could… well, if you wanted me to, I suppose I could… teach you?"
Had Austria known the reaction this offer would provoke, he would have made it long ago.
Prussia's face lit up. Not as it used to, whenever the twit was plotting, or teasing, or cajoling. This was an expression Austria had never seen before; not on Prussia's features, at any rate. It seemed full of pure delight and wonder, so much so that it left Austria astonished and unable to do anything but smile just as widely.
In the weeks that followed, the two men fell into something of a routine. Every morning, Austria would arrive in the kitchen to find breakfast and the morning papers waiting for him on the table. After a day at work, be it at meetings or simply going through papers in his study, he would prepare afternoon tea and meet Prussia in the music room. They would spend the rest of the day at the piano before Austria cooked dinner and Prussia disappeared into the cellar to find the wine most suited to the evening's dish. On Sundays, when there was no work to be done, the entire day would be devoted to Prussia's musical education, with breaks only for meals and visits from friends. It was a comfortable, if quiet, life.
One Sunday, during a visit from Germany, Prussia silently led his brother to the music room. After the albino had finished playing, the blonde was so overcome with emotion that he hugged him for a solid ten seconds, a feat that left Austria speechless.
As spring turned to summer, and Prussia's musical prowess developed more and more rapidly, Austria solemnly reflected over the one thing still missing from the man who had regained his vitality and even most of his personality. Prussia still had not said a word.
When the topic of Prussia's progress came up after a World Meeting, many of the other nations wondered over the previously boisterous man's lack of voice. Not one, not even Russia, who had supposedly been in charge of Prussia after the war, had any ideas as to why he continued to be silent when he seemed so happy and at peace. Austria returned home to find his friend throwing darts at a picture of a pink blob with brown hair and glasses, a cheeky grin on his face, and wondered over the fact himself.
But, as time goes on, all things must change eventually.
It was an unbearably hot day in the middle of August when things did.
Austria returned from a meeting with the President about the President's meeting with the Chancellor to find his house in darkness. The breakfast dishes still sat, unwashed, in the kitchen sink, and there was no sign of any dinner preparations. Ordinarily, if Prussia knew, like that day, that Austria wouldn't be returning until late, he would eat before him, and leave some dinner in the oven. However, there was no indication that Prussia had done anything about lunch, let alone an evening meal.
Now slightly worried, Austria returned to the hall and set about calling the brick of a telephone that America had sent Prussia as God knows how many decades worth of Christmas presents, in the hope that if he had gone to visit someone else, they might answer it and put his mind to rest. After a few rings, Austria was sure that he could hear something coming from the living room. He poked his head around the door, and found the lump of black plastic sitting forlornly on the coffee table. Now he thought of it, he remembered seeing Prussia's portable tape-playing device on the table next to the door. He never went anywhere without that.
Austria resigned himself to searching the house, trying not to imagine what might have happened for his friend to not even have turned on any lights. After peering into every room in the house, he made his way back downstairs, braced to search the unchartered territory that was his wine cellar. He had never personally been down there; he had never been a great recreational drinker, and relied on others to retrieve bottles for banquets and formal dinners. Hungary was usually perfectly happy to brave its depths. However, despite never having ventured below, he did know that the place was a total maze, made worse during the war. When the tide began to turn against them, Germany, probably persuaded by Italy, had arranged for the construction of a series of tunnels leading from the cellar to out beyond the perimeter of the estate. The idea was that in the case of defeat, Austria would be able to get out. The theory of the endeavour was excellent. Practically, it relied on the musician being able to work out the right route through the labyrinth. As such, it was no good at all.
Had Prussia decided to explore the tunnels, it was highly probable that he was lost somewhere in the maze, and if that were the case then Austria would be of no use at all.
He was on the verge of telephoning Germany and asking him to go and look for his brother, when he heard a sound coming from the half open door of the music room. Although he had checked the room already, it had only been a cursory glance, and so Austria walked through the door and turned on the light. The noises were coming from behind the piano, and once he was able to see their cause, his heart melted.
Prussia was curled up on the floor, sheets of music strewn around him, one hand clutching a sheaf of tearstained papers, the other tightly gripping the iron cross around his neck. It wasn't how helpless the man looked that made Austria run to him and pull him un-protesting into his arms.
It was the fact that he was sobbing his heart out.
Austria held him for what seemed like hours, softly stroking his hair and murmuring words of comfort, as the Prussian cried into his shirt, dropping the necklace and paper to wrap his arms around his friend. Every so often, there would be a pause in which the brunette would think that it might soon be over, only for the albino to begin again.
To see the man he cared for, the man he… loved, so utterly without hope, broke Austria's heart.
In time, Prussia's sobs turned to mere whimpers, which finally ceased altogether as he loosened his grip on Austria. Austria moved an arm to pick up the papers lying forgotten on the floor. What he saw suddenly made everything clear. The pieces of paper were old pages of sheet music.
His national anthem.
At Austria's exclamation, Prussia gave a few pitiful sniffs, but there were no more tears. There were no more tears left in him.
Austria wrapped his arms around the man once more.
"I'm so sorry. Preußen, I am so, so sorry; I should have realised. Oh, Prussia…"
There was a long pause.
The word was spoken so softly, had Austria not been mere inches from him, he would never have heard it. But that didn't matter.
His voice was rough, both from crying and lack of use, but that couldn't have mattered less.
It was true that it was but one word, not even a very long word, and the battle was not yet won. But that could never have mattered to Austria.
All that mattered was that it had ever been spoken at all.