A/N: Hi all - since this is the final update for this particular story we would like to give a huge "thank you" to everyone who has taken the time to read it, we hope you enjoyed.
This is the last chance to let us know your thoughts, and even if we've never heard from you before, we would really love to… even if you read it sometime after it's complete…
"Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet." ― Plato
Hetalia School for Vampire Hunters
2014 - Six months later…
It was early November and the academic year was well underway. Several weeks before, Alfred, Mathew and Bruce had undergone (with the rest of their year group) the ceremony to formally become hunters and they were now engaged in the field experience. There had been one exception.
Feliciano had stuck to his previous decision and had indeed dropped out. During the late spring and summer months, he and Ludwig had found the perfect location for a small restaurant when a local woman put her business up for sale. She had apparently made the decision following the birth of her first grandchild and was leaving the village in order to move nearer to the family and help her daughter with childcare.
The premises had previously been used only as a cafe, but it was in a good situation and already had a customer base. Feliciano had plans to build on that, and after Ludwig had purchased the property, they had spent weeks redecorating before opening at the start of September. Cosy and intimate with a warm atmosphere, 'La Luna Perfetta' had retained its previous customers and was gradually developing a reputation as the place to go for evening dining, the promise of fantastically cooked Italian cuisine was bringing them in and Feliciano was delighted, all his friends were amongst his regular customers.
Feliciano and Ludwig were finally living their 'happily ever after'. Ludwig had resumed his teaching duties at the academy but the rest of his time was spent with Feli, who had given him a replacement copy of the precious 'Talhoffer' for his recent birthday. They walked, played and loved together... and Ludwig brought the needed efficiency and order to the financial side of their business.
"Ludwig?" Feliciano asked one afternoon as they walked through the forest behind the dogs.
"Do you ever mind? That I didn't want to be a hunter I mean?"
Ludwig glanced at the slightly anxious face turned up towards him and then down at their entwined fingers, and he smiled, "Nein, Feli, it was the right decision and it made me proud that you faced your grandfather with it." He gestured to their surroundings with his free hand, "Our life now… it is perfect, why would I mind?"
"Well… you still hunt sometimes… and I know it's important… and you used all your money..."
"This… you bring me peace, Feliciano," Ludwig squeezed his hand tightly and sighed, "and love - something which after Wolfram I never expected to be able to have. The money was nothing, I am more grateful to you than you can ever realise."
"That's silly, Ludwig, you give it to me too."
Looking forwards to where the dogs foraged ahead, Feliciano laughed. Nosing at bushes and occasionally disappearing into the brush before bounding back into view with a pleased air, a large wolf looked thoroughly at home with his doggy companions.
"He looks happy too, it's so cute."
"Can you talk to him, Ludwig? When you're a wolf too?"
Ludwig coughed a little uncomfortably. After the massive blood loss and transfusions of the spring, he had wondered if maybe his monthly transformations would cease, if perhaps the dilution would have been enough to erase the taint… but they had not. Apparently it was too much a part of him now, ritually ingrained into the very marrow of his bones, he would always remain part wolf - but he did retain a little more awareness now. Both during and after his night as a wolf, Ludwig retained some sense of what passed… he was safer, both for himself and others, nowadays he could at least roam the woods instead of being locked up and he had a companion.
Against his gloomy expectations, Heracles had managed to save the drained wolf he had nursed in the stables, but it had taken many months and diligent care by both himself, Kiku and Antonio before he had been fit to release to the wild and it had come back. Since that time, though he disappeared occasionally, sometimes for a few days, he always returned and made much of his home with Kiku and Heracles. The wolf tolerated all the hunters, although he clearly preferred some people to others and had become something of a mascot to the academy. With Roma as its head (and the story behind his name*), the connection to Sadik and the vampires, not to mention Ludwig's own situation - perhaps he was the most fitting symbol they could have found. Whatever the reason he stayed, the wolf spent each full moon night with Ludwig.
"Wolves do not talk, Feli, but ja we understand each other well enough and he is content."
"I'm glad," Feliciano replied simply, and then he gave a naughty smile, "Talking of wolves, Ludwig, shall we go back now? You promised to make me howl… and you haven't done it yet."
Ludwig kissed him fiercely, "But I will."
Despite Feliciano resigning from the Academy, there had not been less candidates at the joining ceremony.
Since he was joining their ranks alongside his lover, Roma had decided that in a change to the normal manner of things, Arthur should be formally sealed to the ranks of the hunters alongside Sofia who was also becoming a permanent teacher. The pair of them had undergone the ritual too and Arthur had discovered that his primary element was earth when trees burst from the floor around him.
Unsurprisingly, Alfred produced fire… his entire body had been silhouetted in flames, which had intensified to almost painful brightness when he gazed triumphantly towards Arthur.
Bruce had been enveloped in a tidal surge, the initial wave cresting before ebbing away to leave a few shells at his feet and the watching Bella wolf-whistled as he shot her a wink. As Francis watched with a delighted smirk, Mathew had stood calmly at the centre of a whirlwind before it gradually slowed to a gentle breeze - bearing a cloud of petals about his slim form, the scents of Iris and Lily had filled the air as they fell.
Sofia had given the biggest surprise. Though nothing had been said, some members still had reservations about the alliance with the pure-blooded vampires and had privately expected that darkness was bound to be her element. Instead, a blushing sunrise appeared around her, its light warm on her face and a single beam shot forth, illuminating Vlad where he stood beside the podium bearing the chalice. Vlad looked momentarily startled before a distinctly predatory look swept across his face, whilst Sofia's blush rivalled that of her new dawn.
The sceptics definitely needed to rethink their view of things.
One of the biggest of the cynics had been Vash and Roma had taken a more drastic step in an attempt to alter his viewpoint.
At the beginning of this academic year in furtherance of the new accord, Toris and Feliks had arrived to spend some time cementing links between two academy sites. This 'exchange program' had been agreed upon by Roma and Leon as a first step towards developing mutual understanding and so selections had been made for hunters to travel in the opposite direction.
The newly qualified Andro and Boris were asked to be amongst those who would go, and both had agreed. The Croatian wished to use the opportunity to further his medical knowledge of the vampire state and he had agreed to provide more advanced training to Ciel who was the best medic that the vampires possessed; while Boris was to advance their understanding of useful rituals, and he himself wanted to study the castle's protective wards.
In addition to these inexperienced new members, Roma wanted to send a more seasoned hunter and after viewing Vash's poorly concealed distrust of both Francis and Arthur, despite everything they had done, he felt that drastic measures were needed. It had taken a direct order, but Vash was now in Ukraine.
Initially he had been furious, but he had gone, he wasn't going to be worried about living with a load of blood-sucking, conniving leeches and besides - Christina had his back.
Infuriatingly, the resident vampires seemed mildly amused by his attitude and he had a suspicion that they had been forewarned. For several days Vash kept himself strictly to himself, but he started to get bored.
Wandering through the passageways in boredom about a week after he arrived, Vash wondered where everyone else was and what they were doing. By now he was starting to wonder if he was missing something, where were the victims and the blood-fuelled orgies he'd half-expected to uncover by now. Disconsolately he rounded an unfamiliar corner, could he possibly have been wrong?
Suddenly from a nearby doorway he heard a low scream, cutting off abruptly, it dwindled into what was surely a dying groan. There, someone needed help! He'd found them out at last… Vash hurried anxiously towards the door which was slightly ajar, Christina firmly clutched in his hands.
"I have you covered!" Bursting through the door and into a simply furnished sitting room, Vash looked around in bewilderment. What the…? "I heard somebody scream?" He said slowly, the words sounding lame even to his own ears.
Seated calmly on a low sofa and facing the screen in front of him, the vampire barely spared him an impatient glance.
"Well duh, my unit just wiped out a federation patrol."
Unit? Patrol? Vash shifted his gaze to the screen; it was a computer game he'd heard? Oh. Embarrassed by his undignified arrival, Vash began to edge back towards the door. Maybe he could just get out of here without needing to explain his mistake and apologise. His neck reddened, he was certainly not going to say sorry to any vampire.
The vampire's soft curse brought Vash's attention back to the screen and he could not prevent the disparaging comment which left his lips as he watched such shoddy shooting, "Always go for the head shot if you want a certain kill, surely you know that much."
The vampire shrugged dismissively and Vash found himself leaning on the back of the couch to watch, the graphics really were most realistic, he wondered how satisfying it would be to shoot this way. After all he didn't have anywhere else to practice…
Many hours later, Aegaratt heard a ferocious bellow as he passed by Soo's rooms.
"ODIN strike… and that's my second kill-streak! You so needed me on this man, now you kill that other motherfucker!"
Aegaratt groaned inside - just great, Soo might convert that bigot which was a plus he supposed, but now they had another shoot-em-up fanatic, was that a good trade? He wasn't sure…
Meanwhile back at the academy, Arthur had been excused from any field experience as he had more than enough knowledge of the half-breeds, and was needed instead to assist Vlad with updating the vampire lore curriculum ahead of this year's lessons with the new batch of first years. There were a couple of trainees that the academy thought showed particular potential - a young Cypriot whom Heracles had taken under his wing saying he reminded him of Sadik and a Portuguese recruit who was showing a great deal of flair in lore and ritual classes. Vlad was determined to give these fresh minds the most accurate information that he could - right from the outset, so some urgent revision of the previous lesson content was required.
Between his days with Vlad, Arthur was also spending time with Roma; they were adding many new names to the database which week-on-week was expanding dramatically. Many areas of shared vampire and hunter history were also being clarified for them both with Arthur's help. In plenty of instances where the behaviour of the vampires had previously been a mystery, he could give them the knowledge of the other side's actions and motivations which had been missing. Many puzzling sightings now made sense and Arthur was also able to add significantly to the understanding of half-breed behavioural patterns, vital information in this new order.
In addition to all the help he was providing to the academy in his current position; Arthur was also receiving some intensive training in rituals from Vlad. Although he had previously had some interest in these, now that he was able to use them far more extensively, Arthur was fast developing a fascination for the art and he was proving to be an adept pupil.
That afternoon, the two were engaged in extending Arthur's use of his considerable talent with earth; he was currently seated with one hand extended, palm down and concentrating hard. Arthur's fingertips were each dotted with a small pinprick of blood and they hovered just above the small budding flowers which he had managed to coax into sprouting from a Goldenrod stem only a few moments before.
"Feel the energy with your mind," Vlad crooned softly, "and merge it gently with your field, this must be done very delicately… encourage the life force to grow…"
Arthur began to sweat with the effort of maintaining this fine control, but the buds slowly swelled before them. A bright cluster of small yellow flowers opened to reveal their hearts and a feeling of warm satisfaction built within him at this beauty he had brought into being.
Both men jumped, as the sudden sound of a long, keening howl echoed from somewhere above. As they avoided each other's eyes, it hung in the air for what seemed an eternity.
"For fuck's sake, Ludwig," Vlad muttered glumly under his breath. Arthur's concentration had slipped at a crucial moment, and they looked sadly at the result. The golden flowers which had blossomed so promisingly under Arthur's tender care - had wilted during his inattention, and were now pathetically drooping. Living things required careful nurturing.
"Actually, Vlad, that didn't really sound like it was Ludwig, I think it was Feliciano," Arthur said dryly as he stood up.
"We'll try this again tomorrow," Vlad decided, as he they got hastily ready to leave.
"Mmm hmm," Arthur agreed somewhat distractedly.
As he parted from Vlad who had mumbled something about checking on Sofia, Arthur headed for the rooms he normally shared with Alfred. He was sweating for an entirely different reason now and decided to take a shower… alone. Damn the sodding field experience, he missed Alfred and couldn't wait for his return next week. Insensitive howling gits.
Out in the field, Alfred was missing Arthur too.
He and Mathew had gone out with Gilbert and Francis, but the fact that he had seen, fought (and been sorrowfully horrified by) his first encounter with a half-breed this week; had not been enough to distract Alfred from how much he wished Arthur was with him.
The half-breed had been female and pitiful really, but a terrible danger nonetheless.
There had been a suspicious rash of disappearances reported in this location over the past month; the police and media suspected a serial killer was responsible but the hunters believed differently and so several teams had been sent here to investigate. Across the other side of town, Antonio, Lovino and Bella had also been searching, accompanying Lili, Chris (once Vash was away she had finally got bored of waiting and asked him out) and Bruce in the field for their first time.
'Well we were the ones who found her,' Alfred thought bleakly as he watched Francis and Gilbert removing the body.
They had been checking around this area for several nights as it was one of the main locations of evening life. Gilbert and Francis informed the newer hunters that this would definitely attract any half-breed looking for a quick meal; it was like there were bleeding golden arches over the whole street.
The third night they had finally found her, hanging around outside this night club. Alfred and Gilbert had been watching idly from out of sight around the back as some dude struck out with the girl he had persuaded to come outside. Gil had laughed quietly when she smacked his face and flounced back inside adjusting her top, "Said the wrong thing, asshole," he muttered under his breath, "should have just shut up, she'd already come out here." When he saw another figure emerge from the shadows and stalk towards the aggrieved teenager who was lighting up though; he hissed abruptly to Alfred, pressing a button on his phone to alert Francis and throwing his own cigarette to the floor, "Showtime, kid, pretty sure that's our girl."
Alfred had needed to look twice before he knew Gilbert was right, though he still wasn't exactly sure what it was that seemed different about her in those first moments, something had just been 'off.' Afterwards had been a whole other story.
"Draw her off while I get rid of the kid," Gilbert had growled as they moved, and Alfred obediently veered towards her, wolf-whistling to get her attention.
"Hey, babe how's it going?"
The girl's face as she turned towards him looked pinched and there was a bit of a wild, unkempt look about her, but it was only as she got close and sniffed, plainly scenting his suitability as a prospective meal that she seemed to lose total control and lunged for him. Fangs bared and hissing frantically as she extended her hands to claw at him, there hadn't been a trace of humanity left in her hungry gaze.
Alfred backed away feigning fright to draw her further into the shadows, they needed to keep this as quiet as possible… it would only complicate matters if they attracted attention. She was quick, but Francis was even quicker as he rounded the corner behind her, and his strike was swift and certain, Mathew's gasp as he caught his first glimpse of her livid face, was by then already an afterthought.
Gilbert and Francis interrupted Alfred's thoughts as they returned a short while later. Neither he nor Mathew had spoken much, but both understood the words 'painful necessity' a lot better now.
"There was more than one in town," Gilbert said flatly as he approached, beside him Francis was thrusting a mobile back into his jacket.
"Oui, mon cher, Antonio says they took down another outside a casino," Francis confirmed to Mathew as both of the newer hunters looked up quickly.
Alfred and Mathew looked at each other wondering what this would mean. They were due to return to the academy, but if there might still be others…
Gilbert looked at them, "Francis will be taking you guys on back, while I hook up here with Eliza and Rodders to make sure this town is clear, okay?" As both nodded in agreement, he reached into his pocket withdrawing his cigarettes and offering one to Francis before lighting up his own, "Coffin nail? Love the irony of that these days," he added with a grin.
Christmas at the academy that year was amazing.
Filled with warmth and goodwill among friends, passion and laughter between lovers - it foreshadowed the many happy years to come and this year beneath the tree, Arthur could give Alfred a present too.
He didn't forget that Alfred had given him two, but the second was far more private.
2019 A Glimpse Further into the Future… Five years on...
Another evening, in a future time and the friends were all gathered at Feliciano and Ludwig's now tremendously successful restaurant to enjoy an evening out. Since it was their first evening as a group in several months, they all wanted it to be special and tonight the meal was particularly so - since the Italian brothers had prepared it together...
"Antonio was right, you really do make a wonderful wife," Francis snickered, licking his lips as he looked at the meal in front of him.
"Shut your mouth, bastard!" Lovino scowled at him.
Bella laughed as Lovino turned a deep shade of red; "Of course I'll iron your jacket, Antonio!" She fluttered her eye-lashes.
"And rub your feet," Bruce joined in pulling kissy faces.
"Fetch your slippers!"
"Alfred that would be a dog," Arthur sighed, running a hand across his face in exasperation.
"Don't think we didn't see you tidying his tie for him the other day," Francis smirked, running his own fingers along the front of Mathew's lapels before leaning in to give him a soft kiss on the cheek. "Washing, cleaning and cooking hmm, Lovino? Honhonhon… I am lucky that my Mathew is so rugged."
Mathew blushed deeply but Arthur rolled his eyes, "When Peter moved out, your dear rugged Mathew bought you a poodle."
"Called Spike! And he's an excellent guard dog."
"Yes, I'm sure that's why you keep that puff-ball in your handbag," Arthur scoffed.
"It's a satchel," Francis corrected him, before reaching under the table to feed 'Spike' a piece of chicken, "Who's papa's beautiful boy?" The poodle licked his fingers eagerly in response.
"Speaking of dogs, how are things between you and Ludwig, Feli?" Antonio asked, looking towards him and smiling.
Feliciano raised his hand to his mouth to hide his smile, "Wonderful although people keep complaining about the dog's howling."
Ludwig nodded, "One woman even sent over a muzzle."
"But of course, we found a use for that!" Feliciano gave an over the top wink, before giggling as Ludwig coughed in embarrassment, excusing himself to go the bathroom. "Hey, Ludwig do you want me to come with you? Wink… wink!" Ludwig went an even darker shade of red and shook his head hastily.
"I think I'm going to be sick." Lovino muttered clasping his hands over his ears.
"See, Arthur, I told you you're supposed to say the wink bit!"
Antonio smirked, "Speaking of the restroom, Gilbert, Elizabeta and Roderich have been in there a long time.
"Oh they're not still in the bathroom! Gilbert asked me if they could use our bedroom for some kind of work before dessert came," Feliciano said smiling obliviously.
"Feliciano, when Gilbert said 'work' did he use air-quotes by any chance?" Antonio demonstrated with his fingers and when Feliciano nodded in response, he lay back in his chair, putting an arm round Lovino's shoulders and laughing as he looked at Francis.
Francis licked his lips salaciously, "Perhaps I should... check on them?"
He stood up and briskly walked from the room. The others waiting in increasing wonder for quite a while, but Francis didn't return until over ten minutes later, although when he did he was laughing uproariously.
"Alas, they caught me!" He fell back into his chair like a wounded soldier.
"After ten minutes?" Antonio sounded almost impressed.
"Well Elizabeta noticed me before that, but you know her, she doesn't mind." Francis replied, a small smile crossing his face, "Roderich was wearing a cardboard Hugh Grant mask."
"I hesitate to ask," Arthur ventured, "But what about Elizabeta?"
"She was Colin Firth."
"She's dressed as Colin Firth? Oh what's she doing? Why are they dressed in fancy dress?" Feliciano asked in confusion.
"Oh-la-la, perhaps you had better find that out for yourself," He said naughtily and flashed Feliciano a particularly wicked grin when he nodded.
Feliciano stood up quickly, and ran towards his bedroom stairs.
"No, Feli, don't..." Lovino raced after him, "Don't open that door!"
But he was too late and Feliciano's mouth fell open in horror as he came face-to-face with Gilbert, Elizabeta and Roderich clad in regency period clothing, cut-out cardboard masks and clutching… was that...cue-cards?
"Oh, Mr Darcy!"
Several laughter filled hours later, Arthur and Alfred were seated side-by-side in a taxi and on their way back to their home as they were spending a few weeks away from the academy. It had been slightly quieter at the cottage since Peter had left for college, but from his calls and letters, he was having a fantastic time there while studying English literature (much to Arthur's delight) and French (to his horror).Despite his absence it wasn't that quiet anyway, since Alfred made more than enough noise to fill the silence, as Arthur reminded him in the taxi.
They proceeded to bicker companionably for the majority of the rest of the journey.
"Remember that Harry Potter thing we did for your birthday?"
"Yes, quite clearly," Arthur replied dryly, "…you know you really didn't need to shout 'expelliarmus' when you, erm finished." Alfred laughed, looking quite pleased with himself and Arthur scowled, "You also could have come up with a far better pick-up line than, 'wanna see where I keep my other scar?'"
Alfred grinned, "I'm sorry, mister 'Let's pretend you're imprisoned in my manor; convince me not to reveal your identity; my father will hear about this!'"
"I was getting into character," Arthur sniffed.
"You know, you really take these things way too seriously. Like the year before that, when you actually drew up a map and made me destroy the 'one ring' before I was allowed to touch you." Arthur looked away, his face tinged with red but Alfred looked at him wistfully;
"You know, I've whomped my willow a few times just remembering that night."
They sat in silence for a brief moment before Alfred spoke again, "Arthur?"
"Yes, Alfred," Arthur tried to sound huffy, but he couldn't hide the note of fondness in his voice.
"Why don't we have any awesome-quotey–things?"
Arthur blinked at him, "What on earth do you mean?"
"You know, like the ones Feli and Ludwig use. I dunno what it is they say to each other, but it's all foreign sounding and romantic."
Arthur smiled, "Okay then, Alfred, how about… 'Numquam periit amor.'" He spoke the words with a dramatic flourish.
Alfred scrunched up his face in thought, "I think it would be more romantic if I could understand you though."
"It's Latin for 'love never dies." Arthur smirked, "Although the irony of that line is not lost on me."
Alfred grinned, "Nah that one might work better if you hadn't become mortal so we could be together."
"That's what irony…oh never mind." Arthur heaved a weary sigh, before a mischievous glint flashed through his eyes, "Perhaps we should have, 'Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence'. That one seems rather more fitting."
"I can tell there was an insult somewhere in that," Alfred retorted but he laughed good-naturedly.
Arthur smiled and reached forward to take hold of his hand, "I'm only teasing, you know I think you're the most wonderful..."
"Wait, I think I have it!" Alfred interrupted, almost jumping up and out of his seat. Despite the sound-proof glass, the taxi driver glanced around, and Arthur pushed him back down.
"Alfred," He shook his head, but he smiled anyway. "Go on then, what's your quote?"
"People always do crazy things when they're in love."
"Hmm that might work for us, where's it from?" Arthur smiled at him, squeezing his hand.
Alfred grinned, "Disney."
Of course it was. Arthur shut his eyes momentarily so he wouldn't roll them, but they stayed that way for an entirely different reason when Alfred leaned over to press a tender kiss to his lips.
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." Abraham Lincoln
A/N: Just a few…
'La Luna Perfetta' - The Perfect Moon, Goldenrod is the state flower of Nebraska.
The Disney quotation is from Hercules.
The national flower of both Quebec (Canada) and France is the Iris which symbolises the fleur-de-lys (the stylised lily) of their shared French heritage.
* Rome - amongst the most famous of all Roman myths is the story of Romulus and Remus, the twins who founded the city and were raised by a she-wolf.
ODIN strike etc - terminology pertaining to 'Call of Duty: Ghosts'
… and it's complete :)
We have totally loved writing this story together and will be continuing to work and post on this account in the future. We already have a rough plan for a christmas fic to be posted in Mid-December and ideas for a longer story which we hope will be ready to begin uploading sometime in January 2014. It would be awesome if any of you fancied re-joining us when we do.
A final thank you from this story to all our amazing readers/followers/faves and reviewers - YOU have been a huge part of making this such a great writing experience for us and making us want to continue!
Aspiring vampires and hunters this week: Smellybelly69, Inuyashagirl7692, elizabeta H. Austria, Le-awesome-me, qnon, Decimus Yna, LiquidConfidence, Lovethehumor101, princessofd, KKtheRipper, A Field of Starlight, zoewinter1, Random toria, Alison, Janders, TheEroticFox , JadeAnime, gaaleex, lovemondotrasho, TheAlphaChives and AshiriiKetchup.
Thanks so much to all our reviewers for your unfailing support throughout :)
Signing off until the next!
EvilMidget6 and LieutenantProbable ;)