A Hetalia: Axis Powers Oneshot
By Master of the Hellish Yard
For once, France wasn't groping anyone at the World Meeting. His hands were folded in his lap, resting quietly and doing nothing. He wasn't joining in on England and America's argument, either. Instead, he was simply sitting there, looking at the table. Lately things had just been becoming a bit much for him. He didn't have the energy to put up his regular mask. He didn't have the heart to try and make it believable. For once in his long, trying life, France wanted to be alone.
Sure, there were many times he'd been sad. The whole Jeanne D'Arce fiasco, when he'd been forced to advocate for Prussia's dissolution, when he'd seen the young nation that had spent centuries upon centuries—it'd been a millenia now, that still astounded him—in pain, regardless of whom had been the cause... He'd wanted to be alone many of these times too. But this time...
It really wasn't that different, in truth. France just couldn't take it anymore. He needed a break. Needed a step out, a breath of fresh air, something.
But he was a nation.
Nations didn't have that luxury.
Instead, he'd sit there, too tired to bother with the mask. And the other nations would ignore it, leave him be, because they understood.
They'd had days like that too.
There were times France wondered. Were they being punished for the actions of their people? Themselves? Because certainly this life was a punishment. There was no other option. Living through all those wars, all those atrocities; and no matter how many times they died, how many times they atoned, there was no way out. A nation only faded when there was no one left that remembered and identified as its citizens.
When the only one left was them.
That was why Prussia was still here.
There were still some souls out there that remembered East Germany from how it was distinctly East Germany. There were still a handful of people that identified as East German, even though it'd been a bit over two decades since the Reunification.
Every day, Prussia could feel them disappear, one by lonely one.
Every day, Prussia could feel himself getting weaker, bit by tiny bit.
He'd been at Austria's house the other day when he started coughing up blood. He'd left before the nation could say a word.
No one needed to know how Awesome was falling.
Not that it wasn't visible.
But Prussia needed something to hold onto. And he was the big Brüder. He couldn't let himself be shown as weak.
Awesome wasn't weak.
But that was less than he could say for himself.
Spain tried to insist otherwise, of course. Sweet, caring Spain. He helped a lot in keeping up the façade.
It burned him more to see his friend fading slowly than anything else.
Once upon a time, Spain had been an evil, maniacal battle axe swinger. A lot of nations had been.
Maybe with different weapons.
It pulled at his heart to watch the world unfold. For all of his history, he cared more than many. One of his best friends was dying. And there was nothing he could do for him but help keep up the illusion when the other couldn't.
That wasn't to say Spain was completely healthy himself.
No, by no means was that true.
His economy was in shambles. Had been for quite some time. The others were getting fed up with having to deal with it. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't pull through. He'd been stuck with a cold for so long now.
France and Prussia had to adapt the drinking schedules.
Spain couldn't spend that much energy anymore.
Neither could Prussia.
France looked like he was on a comedown, too.
Maybe they were getting old.
Maybe they were getting tired.
Maybe life just didn't want them anymore, but it couldn't spit them out anymore than they could do it themselves.
And nobody wanted all of their people to disappear.
They were at the bar again tonight. This time, though, they'd gotten a booth.
Both Spain and Prussia were already leaning against the wall to stay upright.
They hadn't even bothered with the alcohol yet.
When Spain coughed, both France and Prussia jumped a bit. Even with an apology, they all knew things weren't the same anymore.
They couldn't keep doing this.
They might not have been able to die.
They might have refused to stop living on account of their people.
That didn't mean things wouldn't change.
After all, things changed all the time.
France could remember a time when life had been much easier. England may not have been any more agreeable than he was today, but everything in general had been a lot simpler to put up with. Simple claims of land and protection, everyone with their own agenda, relations so different that simple fights and attempts at takeovers didn't harm the relationships much at all…
He missed those days.
Missed them more than he'd like to admit.
Prussia remembered those days too. Days where he could go and fight whatever, the days he'd began as a religious order, before morphing over and over again… Even now he continued to morph. Maybe he'd never been intended to be one thing for too long.
Maybe the heavens thought he wasn't suited for anything like that.
Spain wasn't sure what the heavens thought of him. His personality had done almost a full 180°. That didn't mean his darker side was gone. It still came out; generally when someone had threatened those he loved dearly. He tried to keep it in, but restraint wasn't his greatest suit.
Restraint wasn't any of their greatest suits.
Few nations could wear it well.
None of them could wear it all the time.
Certainly, there were those better than others.
There were in every aspect.
It didn't really mean much.
What meant the most was being able to stay together, to be in each other's presence, to not have to worry about what would happen when the trio was left a broken duo.
France couldn't bear to think about that. They'd fought many times, but that had only made them closer. In some way, the pain it created had bonded them. France wasn't ready to let that bond break.
Prussia worried for the others. When that time came—and he knew it would—he didn't know if they'd be able to hold up. He tried to let them work things out on their own, spend more time without him, hoping it would make the break less harsh, but it only succeeded in placing a lonely void in his chest.
He tried to find someone to care for them. Someone to make sure they would go on when he was gone, that they wouldn't let his fading grind things to a halt.
Because that wasn't what fading did.
When you faded, you disappeared slowly.
It was supposed to be a transition. They shouldn't even really notice him being gone.
But he knew they would.
And because of that, he needed someone to take care of them. Because they would let things grind to that halt. Because their caring for him broke his heart more than anything else.
France was the one he was really worried about. Spain was always looking toward the future; would always try to accept things. But France let himself drift into the past. And when he drifted there, it was there he tried to stay.
It usually took work from both of them to pull him out.
The longer they left it, the harder it got.
And Prussia couldn't make Spain do that when Spain was grieving too.
He wished he could say he needed to find someone to take care of his brother.
Wished he could say West still needed him; that Death couldn't have him because then Germany would fall to pieces.
But he knew it wasn't true.
West had long since grown out of his need for his big Brüder. He'd be sad; hopefully miss Prussia, but he didn't need him any longer.
Lately it felt like the big Brüder was West instead.
Spain didn't want to think about it happening, but he knew it would. Instead of dwelling on it, he chose to enjoy every moment with Prussia as much as he could, because he never knew when that moment would be the last. Every time they met, Prussia seemed a bit more distant; a bit more pale; a bit less there. And it was worrying, but he would let it be.
If Prussia wanted to say he was fine up until the end, Spain would let him.
He deserved at least that.
It hurt, but so did many other things. He could deal with it. Hide them behind his bright smile and sparkling green eyes.
There were times he wondered if Prussia knew just how much Germany cared about him. The act of being the older brother to his older brother was simply him being worried and trying to repay all the love and care he'd received over the years.
Spain knew Germany felt it would never be enough.
That Germany would miss him more than anyone else.
That the only reason he wouldn't let it be known was because he'd feel he had to go on, to live out his brother's wishes and memory.
And that Prussia would never be forgotten.
Spain knew that was Prussia's biggest fear.
He couldn't blame him.
They—Spain, France, and Germany—would make sure Prussia got a funeral, even if they didn't have any remains to bury.
Maybe they'd use a flag.
They would make certain he was remembered.
They—Spain and France—would continue visiting their—Spain, France, and Prusia's—favoured bars, and they would always order Prussia's beer, and if by some fell chance Gilbird survived, they would bring him on as legend.
Maybe that would be what they buried.
A nation's animal often left remains if small.
They'd use the flag too.
Spain would also make sure there was someone there, standing silently in a black cloak with a scythe, simply because he knew Prussia would want it.
A last bit of lightheartedness, even if a bit morbid.
There was something about the bags under the eyes of all three that they simply couldn't place. It seemed a union, but it seemed something else as well.
They weren't truly certain.
To be honest, they weren't really aware.
All they knew was that they were close, and even if the bond were fated to be severed, the memories would remain.
Because though memories would blur, they would not fade.
They wouldn't let them.
They couldn't let them.
Memories were lost to the recesses of the mind.
But memories would still be there, under the ash and fuzz.
As long as there was a whisper in the wind.
As long as there was a breath to the sea.
As long as there was a rustle in the trees.
A murmur in the grasses.
A moan in the valleys.
A cry on the mountaintops.
Memories would remain.
They couldn't let them fade.
Not now, not ever.
Grandpa Rome had faded. Veneziano had cried. Romano hadn't remembered him.
Germania had faded. Prussia had raised Germany on his own.
Ancient Greece had faded. Turkey had taken Greece and kept him from the crumbling civilization.
Ancient Egypt had faded. Egypt had grown.
The Ancients were gone.
Their greatness was remembered.
Soon, Prussia would be joining them. He was scared as all hell. But he kept himself going.
They might have faded. He might have accepted his fate. That didn't mean he had to spend the last of his days weeping and wasting away.
He was the Saint Maria Order.
He was the Teutonic Knights.
He was the Kingdom of Prussia.
He was East Germany.
And he wasn't going to let himself wallow in sorrow and fear.
That was a good thing for France and Spain. They didn't want to see their friend broken again.
The times they had before were few.
They were also some of the most fearsome sights they could think of.
And that was simply because Prussia wasn't meant to be like that.
They were nations, yes.
Doomed to live through atrocity after atrocity.
Doomed to never be allowed to stay dead without the sacrifice of every single person identifying as theirs.
Doomed to live with their sins and catch up in an ever-changing world that was changing faster and faster every year for centuries; possibly even millennia.
Doomed to disappear without a trace when they finally were allowed to take their refuge.
Doomed to fight as hard as they can with friends and ally with enemies.
Doomed to be monsters.
They were doomed.
And they were doomed