Roderich Edelstein- Austria- had seen Gilbert Beilschmidt (the Kingdom of Prussia) with countless injuries. Bumps on his head from Hungary's frying pan; little red specks on his face from when he'd forgotten to feed "Gilbird," thus resulting in the canary pecking away at his master's face; cuts and bruises from drunken fights he'd picked at bars; heavily bleeding wounds on the way back from the battlefield.
Nonetheless, these simple scars, their pink shade standing out so prominently against the albino's pallid skin, struck the most fear into the Austrian's heart for a plain reason: Prussia had inflicted them himself.
"Gilbert… Why." The words barely escaped past the lump in Austria's throat. His violet eyes were wide behind his spectacles. He knew Prussia was an egotistical attention hog, but had he seriously gone so far as to commit an act depressed teenagers did for attention? It was ridiculous and silly. At least, that's what Austria told himself.
"To help it go faster." It was obvious that Prussia was trying to keep up the usual haughtiness he harbored in his tone, though in actuality he sounded nothing but tired. His common smirk was present on his lips, yet one glance into his scarlet eyes revealed his true emotions. Prussia was sick, he was exhausted, he was dehumanized; the usual flames that lit up his crimson orbs had flickered out. "I'm not stupid, you know. I'm too awesome to be stupid. I know what's coming, Roddy. I can see the state my empire was in."
Austria never meant it when he said Prussia was stupid; he knew he wasn't. He had just hoped he was too blind to understand. Perhaps his oblivion could have overridden reality.
When Austria had spotted Prussia's swaggering form limping his way over to his porch, countless reasons as to why he was here at his home immediately popped into his head. He looked injured, so perhaps he was naively coming to ask for aid; or maybe he was stumbling because he was drunk again and needed a place to crash. Maybe he was in want of declaring another war, or simply desired to heckle the Austrian like he tended to do in the past. It had been a while since he harassed Austria about Switzerland- he was constantly insisting they should be romantically involved- so perhaps he'd come to spray paint the Swiss nation's cell phone number on the walls again.
Anything made more sense than this.
"Auf Wiedersehen, Roderich."
"Don't be such an idiot. I know you'll be back, you always are," Austria snapped. Yes, yes, Prussia would be back… No matter how many times Austria kicked the obnoxious hooligan off of his property, he would eventually come back, swashbuckling as ever. It was inevitable. That man was like a boomerang. Yes, this goodbye meant absolutely nothing…
"Of course I'll be back. Back to haunt you." Prussia laughed; however, it was most unlike his usual deafening chortle. It sounded so insincere, as if he didn't mean it. No, no, of course he meant it. That idiot always found a way to make a joke out of any situation…
Austria's breath caught in his throat as he noticed that Prussia had not reopened his eyes after laughing. This fact seemed completely irrelevant, until Austria took note of a single tear slip out from beneath the Prussian's eyelid. After it came another, and another, until a consistent stream of tears was trickling down Prussia's cheek.
He tried to dismiss it with a laugh, this one much louder and more forced yet also more painful to both deliver and hear. He turned so that he was facing off to the left, not in front of him toward Austria. "Heaven or Hell or wherever fallen empires go could use a presence as awesome as mine."
He really could make a joke out of any situation, couldn't he.
Deep inside, Austria had known the truth about Prussia's inner turmoil all along. Nonetheless, his insisted hatred of the nation left him to discard the theory, despite it actually being the truth.
Prussia wasn't so loud, sociable, and assertive because he was confident; on the contrary, he was this way due to his lack of confidence.
He didn't spend so much time with France and Spain solely because they were a riot to do things with; they were the only people on the entire planet he could truly call friends. Yet, they didn't even know the real him. Not for sure.
He "collected" his little army of birds not because it made him feel like a leader from a young age; he clung to the feeling that the silly animals loved him unconditionally. When all of them but Gilbird left him, it legitimately broke his heart.
He didn't get drunk weekly because he was an irresponsible hoodlum; the alcohol provided him with an escape from reality and his inner pains for a while.
He didn't run around shouting "I AM AWESOME!" because he thought it to be true; he just thought that if that was what he told everyone, he would one day start believing it himself.
He didn't harass people because he was an insensitive asshole; he harassed people because he needed a temporary break from harassing himself.
He didn't refuse to cry because he thought it was girly or weak of him; he knew that shedding tears was a sign of vulnerability, and proof that he was desperate for help. Nothing scared him more than the idea of needing to reach out for help.
There was one word to describe Prussia- the real Prussia- and Austria knew exactly what it was.
"Gilbert, open your eyes," Austria commanded.
"Sorry, I can't. My eyes have sealed themselves shut," Prussia responded with a combination of casualty and sarcasm. How could he manage to crack foolhardy responses like that when he was at death's door….
Drawing in a deep, irritated breath, Austria took the few steps needed to close the gap between the two nations. With more force than expected from the usually elegant aristocrat, Austria grabbed Prussia's chin and forced him to turn toward him. The abrupt motion was surprising enough to make Prussia's eyelids snap open. Before he could squirm away, his wild gaze was caught in Austria's intense one as if some force was drawing them together.
Purple into red, their eyes bore into each other, and in that moment Prussia comprehended: Austria knew. He understood. The persona Prussia had adapted had caused Austria to express his frustration through harsh words and piano chords; he had banned the Prussian from setting foot on his property (to no avail, of course); he had waged war against him.
Still, he understood. He knew.
It took until now for him to realize it, but Prussia now acknowledged that if Austria really, truly did not want Prussia to come back, he would see to it that he didn't: as prissy as he was, he was a nation. Though reluctantly, Austria allowed Prussia to return to him when he was drunk or wounded or in need of someone to bother. All along, whether either of them knew it or not, Austria had been there for Prussia.
In a way…. He had been a friend.
Their powerful gazes were suddenly penetrated when Prussia's body gave an excruciating lurch, causing his teeth to clench and his eyes to close tightly in agony. For a brief moment, he had managed to forget his empire was crumbling by the second…
"Come here, Little Master," Prussia grumbled, gripping his side painfully. Austria's cheeks flushed a light pink at the teasing nickname Prussia often used for him. This time, however, he had no fear of being groped or being repulsed by the smell of alcohol on the Prussian's breath.
"I am here," Austria murmured, glad his words had come out less vicious than he intended. Prussia gave a slight shake to his head; the motion seemed to be the most he could manage at the moment.
"Nein, come ALL the way here." Prussia's pain seemed to lessen some, since he now unclenched his teeth to draw in a breath and was able to reach an arm out toward Austria. "I need a crutch."
Never in his lifetime would Prussia have admitted to needing such support, especially from someone like Roderich Edelstein. Then again, his lifetime was beginning to dwindle.
Slowly, Prussia opened his eyes, revealing the pain and pleading that danced across his irises. Austria's heart skipped a beat. Perhaps it was simply because he was so needy and distressed-looking, but in that moment, a word Austria never would have used to describe Prussia jumped to his attention: beautiful. The unique crimson of his eyes, the mealy tone of his skin, the naturally proud set of his jaw, the permanently scruffy manner of his hair, which was the most phenomenal shade of near silver…
Yes. Prussia was gorgeous.
By embracing this realization, Austria broke the border that prevented him from embracing Prussia himself. Gently as can be, taking as much care as he would if he was playing a soft piece on his piano, Austria wrapped his arms around the albino. Prussia slumped against him, mustering just enough strength to swathe his arms around Austria's back. He was too weak to lift his head, yet he didn't particularly mind: it felt nice, having his face pressed against the aristocrat's shoulder, having no choice but to inhale his sweet scent.
"So you actually get me, hm, Roddy?" Prussia whispered, using all his energy to keep his breathing even.
Austria gave a slight nod to his head, careful not to disposition Prussia in anyway. Instead, he kept one arm around the albino's waist and slid the other into his locks of silver hair, stroking his head tenderly. "Ja. I admit, you aren't as much of an open book as I thought… But I understand you, now. I didn't at first… But now I see that you're just lonely." Prussia flinched slightly; from Austria's words or from physical discomfort, nobody could be sure. "After all, I knew no one could be as obnoxious as you without reason," he added with a miniature version of one of his rare grins.
Despite his pain, Prussia managed a laugh. It was choked, but it was sincere. "I could name a few people. …You know, Roddy… You must be pretty damn smart. Nobody else… has figured me out. Not Francis, not Antonio, not Ludwig or Feliciano…" With every word, Prussia sounded more and more sad. Austria knew that tightening his hug would have been more painful than comforting, so instead he slid his hand down onto Prussia's cheek. "Maybe you could explain it at my funeral."
Austria froze. Yes, there was no point in avoiding the truth that Prussia's life was gradually fading away. Still, there was a tiny shred of hope lingering inside of Roderich, willing reality to be false. Now that Austria realized the inevitable- how he truly felt about this albino man- that shred became more prominent, and he knew that it would hurt a thousand times more once it was destroyed.
The minutes of the evening seemed to drag by as hours while Prussia and Austria stood in each other's arms, admitting to things both verbally and to themselves. For the first time in his life, Prussia confessed to his inescapable loneliness, while Austria digressed that this was a feeling he could relate to.
Another realization dawned on Austria, but it wasn't something he would ever share out loud. Yes, there were mainly economic reasons behind his divorces with Hungary and Spain. Nonetheless, he did have emotions as well… and had he been a human, he would have ended it with them anyway, for one sole reason: his heart belonged to Gilbert Beilschmidt.
This piece of truth felt so horrifying, so hopeless… until he felt a light pressure against the hand he had pressed against Prussia's cheek. Prussia had channeled all his strength into his one arm, in able to lift it and rest his gloved hand atop Austria's. The slight amount of extra exertion caused him to start shaking ever-so-slightly, yet he did not relax his arm. As gently as possible, Austria adjusted the position of his own hand and linked his fingers with Prussia's. Slowly, Austria brought the held hand to his lips, and placed a delicate kiss to Prussia's knuckles.
Later, he would regret such affectionate gestures. Now, he needed them.
For a blissful moment, a soft smile much unlike the smirk he had come to be known for appeared on Prussia's pale face. Their gazes met once more… until Prussia went rigid and cried out in agony. Austria's expression of peace was instantaneously replaced with one of panic, like when a string snapped on his piano. Except, this was more important.
"Gilbert… Gilbert, are you okay?" he questioned quickly, not even bothering to keep the worry out of his tone. Prussia had gone all this way to see Austria on what he knew was his final night; the least he could do was show some sincerity.
"I don't… I don't think so. Roderich, that was…" He drew in a sharp, shaking breath before coughing hard. Blood began to trickle down his jaw; in most circumstances, Austria would be disgusted at getting his jacket soiled, but at the moment, he had much more pressing concerns. "That was the… final, blow. A-auf Wiedersehen, for real this time." Shaking violently, Prussia used every ounce of remaining strength he had to look up into Austria's eyes one last time. He began to speak, but Austria would not hear anymore.
"Nein… NEIN. Gilbert Beilschmidt, don't you dare say such things. I refuse to let you leave me. Not now… Not… not ever again!" he yelled.
"Hey, I'm trying to hold on…" Prussia croaked. "Because I..."
Tears were now cascading down Austria's cheeks as he slid his hands onto Prussia's shoulders, gripping them tightly as if holding his life in place. Prussia couldn't leave him… Not now that he was sure of the real him, the him he was perfectly capable of falling in love with…
The words formed on Prussia's lips, although they never left his throat.
"Ich liebe dich, Roderich."
That was it. His wan mouth didn't even have a chance to close after shaping Roderich's name; his entire body froze as if someone had pressed the Pause button on his very being.
The first bit of movement was his eyes. The slightest sample of their regular fire that had still been lingering within the orbs extinguished, along with every dash of emotion and life that could be found in them. They went completely blank. Next his jaw went slack, followed by his entire body. He would have crumbled to the ground, had Austria not been there to catch him.
And catch him he did, with a devastated sound that combined a gasp and a groan. This loud, crazy, haughty, conceited…. lonely, lost, beautiful empire was gone. The Kingdom of Prussia had fallen.
God I hate that ending... It was pathetic. T~T But I dunno how to make it better...
Anyway. My friend(?) put me on this little Skillet high, so I ended up finding their song The Last Night and falling in love with it. I happened to listen to it while on a little PrusAus high, and decided the two needed to be combined into a oneshot/songfic. This originally was a normal songfic with lines from the song before each part they related to... but then I was told this was a violation of the guidelines and i was going to be reported. So I took the lyrics out ;~; The actual songfic version is on tumblr, though, and I'll be putting it on deviantART as wel.