Natalia took one step outside and lost it. Eyes gleaming with viciousness and fervidity, she took a fraction of a second to spin around and land a punch on Arthur's nose. Her captor stumbled backwards, leaving the fierce woman with time to strike again. The blonde man recovered quickly, without hesitating to throw an ice spell hurling towards her. She froze for a second; Arthur tried to grab her, but she broke free of his curse and proceeded to draw a short blade out of her pocket.
"Just try to capture me," she spoke, her voice sharp and icy. She jumped out of the way as Arthur lunged towards her, now wielding flames. A streak of blonde approached the guard from behind and landed a punch. Feliks watched him fall in satisfaction.
"You so don't mess with us," he insisted, only to come face-to-face with Alfred.
"You've pissed off the wrong people," the muscular fighter stated, landing two successive punches on his chest. Feliks squealed and ran behind Matthew, who had been watching the scene in horror. Alfred ran up to them, preparing to attack, but he promptly froze at the sight of Matthew. Up close, their similarities became very clear. Their blonde hair was the same shade and their faces bore a family resemblance. When Alfred spoke again, his voice was lower and darker. "You really want to betray me, don't you?"
Matthew looked straight into his eyes. "I only joined this side to save you. You know just as well as anyone that there are people who want to erase your very existence. I needed to make sure that didn't happen." Arthur stood up and ran, leaving a smile on Natalia's face. Most focused on the conversation between Alfred and Matthew, however.
"Siding with a traitor will not save me," Alfred responded coldly. Matthew grabbed his shoulders firmly and inched his face closer to his.
"You'd be surprised how badly out-of-character you're portraying Berwald. Everyone thinks he's some evil criminal mastermind—he's trying to save the world! He's made mistakes and taken risks, but it's all for a reason, and that reason is to save you! People want to delete your code, and they're not going to stop, even though it's impossible. They won't stop, and I won't stop what I'm doing until they give it up." Alfred's expression did not change. He remained still, as if he was unsure of what to do next. In the silence, Matthew looked like he felt that Alfred could believe him.
"Jealousy will never go away, Matt. There's nothing you can do." Matthew's arms fell back to his side. For a moment, the two brothers exchanged glances, unsure of what to make of the silence between them. Every witness watched the brothers; Arthur had fled. Alfred could give up the fight. Perhaps Natalia's plan worked better than Berwald had anticipated.
But the blonde mage had returned, with several others behind him. Brandishing swords and fists, the fighters charged, initiating the battle once again. Berwald leapt away from what would have been a critical hit; his attacker, Francis, shouted in frustration and tried again. In the distance, Tino was face-to-face with Sadiq, the Turkish fighter than Berwald had once beaten easily. The desire to rush over to Tino's side and defend him consumed him, but he appeared to be holding his own quite well. After all, there had been a reason why the lesser fighters had once been so jealous of him.
Francis cursed, failing to hit Berwald for the tenth consecutive time. He wasn't quite used to the tactic he employed, but he couldn't engage in battle. Though those around him begged to differ, a fight would only worsen the circumstances. The group had been so easily outnumbered, so quickly. He was good, and he didn't doubt that the members of his group could fight, but he couldn't see how a tiny group of nobodies on the leaderboard and himself, a man who no longer wished to fight, could defeat the highest ranked players in the game. When his eyes wandered over to Tino, he found that Mathias and his war axe had joined Sadiq. A glowing blue slash interrupted his thoughts and drew his focus back to his attacker.
"Aren't you going to hit me?" Francis asked, smirking. "What's stopping you from a challenge?" Berwald jumped out of harm's way, his eyes still jumping to Tino. He was putting up a strong fight—but the blows rained down on him, and he was dangerously close to loosing consciousness. The fights elsewhere were equally devastating. Natalia's swift, sharp technique could not damage her three opponents effectively. Katyusha and Feliks tried to stand their ground, facing the deadly duo of Alfred and Ivan. Though the strong Russian man looked thoroughly uncomfortable fighting his sister, he knocked her out easily with one flick of his water pipe. Berwald himself felt he would fall with them. Francis's strikes were growing in accuracy, and the taller, stronger fighter dodged them less and less. The slashes induced pain, but he gritted his teeth and continued to endure them. He was outnumbered and he was hated. He didn't need to add more fire.
"Fight me, damn it! Is this really how you want to go down?" His attacker seemed more and more desperate for counteraction. Berwald, however, continued to refuse.
"Need to show 'm not a rebel," he insisted, leaping out of the range of Francis's sword. "Won't fight you." He raised an eyebrow, and a moment later, sheathed his sword.
"You'd rather be imprisoned quietly?" he asked in disbelief. Berwald nodded, only adding to Francis's curiosity. "You won't even stand up for your friends who have fallen?" He was trying to provoke Berwald. He had to be. Why hadn't he rushed over to Tino's side? The blonde-haired, sweet-voiced Finn was lying on the ground, eyes opening to the fact that he had just lost the fight. Around him, the others followed suit. The guards smiled and cheered, satisfied with their victory. Berwald stared at the scene, not knowing what to feel. He had allowed his friends to fight a losing battle, and he had done nothing to stop it. Natalia had been right. He had given up.
"You cannot argue with your fate," Arthur announced, drawing the attention of everyone around him. "You tried to fight for your freedom, but in the end, the Council of Hetalia prevails. All of you have been aware of the fact that anyone seen in the presence of Berwald Oxenstierna must suffer a similar fate. No amount of fighting can change that." The only sound in the atmosphere was the steady voice of the man who spoke. Berwald found Tino's eyes; a pit opened inside him when he saw how defeated they looked. What if he had brought himself to fight? He could never repay those who had fought for him, especially now, when he had refused to help them. He wanted to smack himself, or slice his flesh a thousand times with Francis's blade. Arthur continued, as if Berwald was perfectly capable of listening to what he needed to say. "Therefore, Natalia Arlovskaya, Feliks Lukasiewecz, Matthew Williams, Katyusha Braginskaya, and Tino Vainamoinen are sentenced to newly-constructed, high-security prisons." It took a second to notice something wrong. Berwald was not listed among the condemned. He tried to protest, but Arthur cut him off. "Berwald Oxenstierna cannot run free. However, he refused to assault Council members. Because of this reason, he shall continue to live as is, under house arrest. More security is needed—we may employ guards . . ." His words faded away as reality struck Berwald, harder than ever. Not only did he cause the imprisonment of innocent people, but Tino, his sweet-faced, beautiful love would be taken away from him. He would be forced to live alone, with only dreams and memories of resting by his side. His life would feel empty, the way it had been before Tino had been unlocked that fateful day. Berwald had run out of solutions for his problems. His plans only ever caused more trouble. His plans only ever led to more pain and suffering. He was digging a pit for himself, and others had fallen in. He knew he deserved this, yet he couldn't bear to accept it. Those bright, violet eyes bore into his; they still held concern and fear. Berwald frowned, immediately wishing he could cry. His greatest fear was to be separated from Tino, and he had been spared from it many times before. This time, Berwald would truly have to live a life without him.
The Council members ushered his friends—those who he had betrayed—away, leaving him to turn around and enter his prison once more. They forced Tino's head away, and the last he saw of his adorable fighter was the back of his soft, pale hair. As he reached his apartment shut the door behind him, he realized it was over. There was nothing left for him to fight for.