There's no time for us
There is no place for us
What is this thing that builds our dreams
Yet slips away from us?
It wasn't a gloomy day, really. No pathetic fallacy for this event. No grey clouds or raindrops or fog. In fact, it was rather beautiful. The sky was a brighter, clearer blue than Austria had seen it in years, and the sun caressed every surface it could reach with gentle warmth. And even on the ground, among shock and pain and sorrow, there was beauty in the form of hundreds of brilliantly coloured flowers and gorgeous works of art set up to be admired by those present.
And Austria hated it.
He hated the fact that the weather did not mirror his feelings. He hated the bright flowers and paintings. He hated the way the small coffin looked as it was lowered into the ground, the signatures and goodbyes of many friends scrawled across the top and sides. He hated himself for being responsible.
The cheerfulness hurt. The art hurt. Everything was art with Kugelmugel. His hair, his land, the way he dressed. But as he'd lain on his deathbed, he had looked at Austria with such sorrowful acceptance and solemn understanding in his eyes, an expression suddenly wise beyond his years etched onto his face, and said, "It doesn't have to be art."
It didn't need explanation. Kugelmugel had known what was happening and Austria had known what was happening and both had known what was to come. So Austria had shaken his head and taken his hand and murmured, "No, it doesn't. But it will be." And then a sudden fit of ruefulness and self-consciousness had overtaken him and he had looked at the ground and continued. "I'm so sorry."
When he'd looked back up, Kugelmugel's eyes were closed and there was the faintest hint of a content smile left holding up the corners of his lips, so that even in death he was happy.
Now Austria regarded the scene before him with a deep-seated anguish rising in his chest. Of course he blamed himself. No one else had sat behind their desk, hands clasped together almost casually, looked Kugelmugel in the eye and told him, "You're not a micronation anymore." It was supposed to be nice; he would finally be left alone. Revoke his status as a micronation and perhaps he would become a regular Austrian citizen and be less eccentric and less bothersome. At no point did he realize that he would die. He felt as though he had murdered a child. A child whose funeral he was now attending. A child whose coffin he could not bring himself to sign, whose paintings he could not bring himself to keep, and who he has realized he loved much, much too late.
There is but a single cloud in that brilliant blue expanse above him. Austria wonders if it might be there for him.
Who wants to live forever?
Who wants to live forever?
There's no chance for us
It's all decided for us
This world has only one sweet moment
Set aside for us
"Come now, Fritz. You can't seriously be doing this." Prussia blinked rapidly, scrubbing at his eyes with the heels of his hands. "You've been through so much shit; you can't just….just stop like this. You were supposed to live forever, like me. You were supposed to take care of me forever!"
It took tremendous effort for Prussia not to kick at the tombstone before him, not to throw a tantrum like a child and let all his frustration and rage and fear and anguish out. Old Fritz was his mentor and his leader and he needed him and it's not fair, it's not fair and it hurts so much. His knees hit the ground before he even realized that he had fallen. He could no longer comprehend anything but the cold, hard rock before him and the freshly turned earth below him and his fingers a clasped around his hair, tugging at it sharply, and he threw his head back and screamed. He screamed at himself and at Fritz and at humanity and mortality. He screamed until his throat was raw and his ears were ringing. He screamed until there was nothing left for his voice to offer. He didn't care if people heard him. Didn't care what they thought. Fritz was gone and he was alone and terrified and suddenly aware of how completely and utterly weak and vulnerable he was. How human.
At some point, Prussia moved to sit beside the tombstone, one hand resting on the dirt of Fritz's grave. Before him, a line of phosphorescence trailed across the horizon. Was the sun really setting already? How long had he been there? Prussia did not want the sun to set, because the sun setting meant the day ending, and the day ending meant a new day beginning. He did not want that new day, because he would have to wake up and drag himself through it and be alone the whole time. Finally he tilted his head back and rested one hand against the cool rock behind him; it dug into his palm slightly, but he didn't care because the discomfort was distracting. And with his voice lost (he feared, for a time, that he may have permanently damaged his vocal cords) he could only think the words he wanted to express to Fritz.
'I never wanted you to go. I wanted you to be there forever. Like a nation. Like me. I'm scared, Old Fritz. Fuck, I'm terrified.' There was something warm running down his cheek. He didn't bother to wipe it away because it was only joining hundreds of others and at that moment he realized that the front of his shirt was soaked with tears. And in a way, he was glad that Fritz was not there to see him like this. But that was just the problem: Fritz was not there. Fritz was not there with him and he never would be again and all Prussia had left of him was this stone and this dirt. 'Please come back. Please don't leave me here alone. I need you.'
His face contorted with misery, the great nation of Prussia sobbed quietly into his hands, hunched over on his father figure's grave, murmuring hoarse "I need you"s. The phosphorescence on the horizon disappeared completely, and was replaced with a dull and dreary night sky in which few stars were visible and the moon was barely a sliver.
Who wants to live forever?
Who wants to live forever?
Who dares to love forever?
When love must die?
He was only a child. France had known him for so long. He had befriended him and fought him and he had seen him grow up with Italy and watched them fall in love and his entire being was trembling with such force that the gun shook visibly. His finger hesitated above the trigger. He had to obey orders, yes, but this was only a child. And yet even at such a young and innocent age he was glaring up at France so defiantly and his only fear swirled so deep in those familiar blue eyes that had he not been so close and so completely focused he might never have known it was there.
An eyebrow twitched slightly downward. The corner of a lip followed. The Holy Roman Empire did not break his even gaze as he spoke. "France….you….can you tell Italy that I'm sorry?"
Presently there was a heavy silence as France's index finger continued to brush tentatively against the trigger of his rifle. No, he did not think he do it. Not at all. So, though he knew he would have to pull that trigger eventually, knew what he would have to watch happen, and it nearly killed him to think about it, he decided to stall anyway. These were, after all, a proud nation's last few moments, and the least he could do was allow him a final word.
"Sorry for what?" There was a tight pain at the back of France's throat. He realized that he was close to tears and felt a bit self-conscious. He was not the one about to die. Yet perhaps that was Holy Rome's intention; to break him, to make him feel so awful about murdering someone who he had known most of his life because of his bosses orders that he simply would not do it and HRE would go free. But the Holy Roman Empire was a just and reasonable nation, and if he knew anything, it was when to admit defeat. He would not try to escape his fate. He had already accepted it.
The midnight blue cap teetered precariously on the side of his head as he glanced back and forth swiftly. So tattered and worn it was that it could barely remain where it belonged, and Holy Rome, knowing full well what was coming, removed it and hugged it to his chest. "I broke my promise," he said softly.
"Promise?" France hadn't meant to ask and he really wasn't sure if he wanted to know, but he found that his curiosity had been piqued and honestly he could think of no better way to stall than this.
"I told her…" Holy Rome sniffed quietly, "I told her I would come back. And I need you to tell her that I'm sorry for not returning."
France realized he was chewing the inside of his cheek, and he had to blink a few times to compose himself. But as he dropped to his knees and gathered the Holy Roman Empire into his arms, he began to cry softly anyway, his vision blurring as heat burst forth from his eyes. "I will. I swear it," he whispered, then sat back on his heels to scrub at his eyes. He attempted a shaky smile and ran his hand through Holy Rome's hair to smooth it back to the way it usually looked. "You're strong, you know. Stronger than most other nations. I'm proud of you. And I'm sure Italy is, too."
Holy Rome nodded and rubbed the back of his hand under his eye. "I'm ready now," he murmured.
France's chest felt tight. His hand began to shake even more violently. He lifted the gun once again and held it only a few centimetres from Holy Rome's temple. As his index finger wrapped slowly, reluctantly over the trigger and squeezed, he breathed a strained, "I'm sorry."
Had his vision not been as distorted by tears as it was, he would have seen the Holy Roman Empire mouthing Italy's name before his blood and brains stained the grass behind him and he slumped to the ground. France bit his cheek again – harder this time, enough to draw blood – and bent to pick up the little boy with the cap clutched in his hands and the deck brush strapped to his back. He returned the cap to his head in an attempt to cover the wound, and turned to carry the Holy Roman Empire home.
But touch my tears
With your lips
Touch my world with your fingertips
And we can have forever
And we can love forever
Is our today
"Jeanne! Jeanne!" France cried, pushing his way through the swarming mass of people, all gathered to watch a murder take place. He needed to stop them. He needed to save her. But what was there to do? When he reached the front of the crowd, guards held him back from her. "Jeanne! Please…" Please what? Please look at him? Please stop this? Please free yourself from your restraints and come back to him? How many things he wanted to do and how many things he could not.
And there was England, scanning the scene before him with what seemed to be pride from this distance. Rage bubbled in France's chest, and he whipped around to storm towards him, arms already outstretched. "You stop this!" he shrieked as his fingers curled around the collar of England's shirt. "You stop this right now! Let her go!"
Thin, pale hands caught his wrists and held them still, and as France looked into England's face, he suddenly felt just a little less enraged. He looked so lost and frightened and utterly ill that it was almost pitiful. But still France shook him. "They're your people! Make them stop!"
"I can't," England rasped, squeezing his eyes shut as he shook his head slowly. "I'm sorry, but I can't. It wasn't my decision…"
"Then who's was it!?" France pulled him closer, and he knew England could see the fury and torment that burned in his eyes. The smaller nation merely hung limply in his grasp, looking just as ashamed as France looked frantic.
"My…my people. I told them no. I told them! I knew you wouldn't…" he trailed off, looking ready to burst into tears. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…."
Behind them, cheers rose from the gathered crowd, swelling as the unmistakable sound and scent of burning wood surrounded them. England continued apologizing, over and over; France wanted to tell him to stop, but he could no longer find his voice. He wanted to see Jeanne, wanted to hold her again and talk to her and laugh with her. He wanted to know if she wore that dignified look that he loved so much, or if she was as petrified as he was.
She didn't scream. France did. He dropped England and fell to the ground beside him, covered his ears to block out the buzz of the people and squeezed his eyes shut to block out the world. He knew, somehow, that it looked strange and childish, but he only lay there, curled up on himself, and wailed as a terrible agony tore at his chest. Beside him, he knew England was crying, and that he was still apologizing, but he was so, so furious at him. Even though he knew it was not England's fault; not really. He was furious at everything because his Jeanne d'Arc was dying and he couldn't fix it.
They burned her twice more after that. Or so France heard. He didn't stay to watch. Hell, he hadn't even watched to begin with. England had disappeared soon after the fire had started, and as France fled the area, he passed him retching and hyperventilating behind a building. He'd begun to apologize yet again, but France ignored him and continued on his way.
Jeanne d'Arc was gone. He loved Jeanne, and she was gone because he was weak and cowardly, and now he hadn't even been courageous enough to watch her die. He was ashamed, and horrified, and more upset than he had ever been in his existence.
When he couldn't run anymore, couldn't force his aching feet to take another step, he collapsed to the ground and sobbed.
Who wants to live forever?
Who wants to live forever?
Is our today
"Hey, woah, West. Are you crying?"
Germany shook his head, covering his eyes with his hand to hide his tears, but Prussia was not to be fooled.
"Man up, bruder. You don't want Italy seeing you crying, do you?"
He shook his head again. His bottom lip trembled. "Please don't die." Oh God, please don't die. He couldn't handle losing his big brother. Especially now, when he was scared and alone for the first time in a long time.
Prussia laughed lightly, then broke off and fell into a coughing fit. "Well, sorry, but I don't think I have much of a choice. You wanna complain; go kick the Allied Control Council's stupid asses."
"'M not kicking anyone's ass right now." Germany's voice was strained, hoarse, broken. "I'm going to stay here."
Swallowing thickly, Prussia nodded and shifted so that his head rested on his brother's lap. "Thanks." He coughed again. A thin line of blood dripped from the corner of his mouth. Germany moved one hand to wipe it away and the other to rest in Prussia's hair. "Would it be too much to ask that you smile for once in your god damned life?" The Prussian asked jokingly, grinning up at him.
"I do smile." His eyes were red and swollen and there were tears streaking down his face, but Germany smiled nonetheless, if only for Prussia. Of course, it looked just as strained as his voice sounded, but Prussia was happy to see it.
"You smile for Italy."
"All the time."
There was silence for a few moments, aside from the quiet plip, plip of tears hitting the collar of Germany's uniform. Presently, Prussia spoke again. "I like Italy. He's cute."
Germany made a noise something like agreement. He didn't think this was really the appropriate time for this conversation. But then, there never would be, would there?
"Germania should probably be the one doing this, huh? I guess you'll just have to settle." Prussia stared up at him, his gaze hard yet sympathetic. "If you ever hurt him, I swear to God I will come back from the dead – and I'll bring Germania and Rome with me – and we will give you the ass kicking of a lifetime. You hear me?" His voice sounded strange; not as assertive or confident as usual. Weaker, almost. Germany bit back a sob.
"J-Ja. I understand."
Germany rested a hand on his brother's chest. He felt his heartbeat; faltering and faint, but still a heartbeat. He sighed. It wasn't fair. Prussia was strong. He was old and battle-scarred and wise and strong. But here Germany sat, with the older nation's head on his lap, listening to his last words. Neither of them spoke for some time. Prussia's eye fluttered shut, and his breathing became laboured. Germany felt his throat close up as more tears rose to his eyes. His hands shook.
"Hey, West?" Prussia whispered, not even bothering to open his eyes.
"I love you."
Germany was quiet for a moment or two, trying to find his voice again. "I love you, too."
Prussia smiled and moved his hand to lace his fingers with Germany's. They were too cold, too thin, too unlike Prussia. It wasn't how it should have been.
Prussia didn't say anything else, instead just lying there and smiling weakly as Germany's shoulders trembled and his thumb rubbed small circles on the back of his hand. His heartbeat continued to slow. All Germany could think was how unfair this situation was. He was watching his brother, the person had looked up to his whole life, die in his arms. He'd fought with him and laughed with him and gone to him for advice and let him see him at his weakest. And now he was dying. Germany wasn't sure what to do with himself.
Even after Prussia had drawn a final, stuttering breath, and his heart had stopped altogether, Germany remained sitting there with their fingers intertwined. He leant down and kissed his forehead, asked Germania to take care of his brother, and cried. He cried for the end of the proud Kingdom of Prussia, and the timeless Order of the Teutonic Knights, and everything that he was, had been, and could have been.
He didn't care if Italy found him that way.
He just wanted his big brother to stay with him.
Who waits forever anyway?