Pairing: Prussia-centric, PruAus
Summary: Prussia dies, and attends his own funeral. Except that he doesn't die, and it's all hilarious. Really. De-anon from the Kink Meme.
Disclaimer: I do not own Axis Powers Hetalia, nor do I claim to. The following is a work of fiction.
Italy’s words, pale and trembling, gossamer-thin, touched his ears, reverberated – just – lightly – and he seized upon them, turned them over and over and over, while the images of his grandfather and his brother and France and Austria – Austria – all disgusted and furious with him, ticked behind his fallen, sticky eyelids like an old reel of film.
“I’ll miss you very, very much. You were really awesome. It makes me – very sad to think we won’t be able to hang out ever again. I miss you, a lot.”
He tried to paste them there, beside his ear drum. He moved his lips, slowly, clumsily, in time with the reverberation. He thought of the poem, too – of France and Spain’s poem – and clenched and relaxed his fists to the beat of the faintly recalled words, which stumbled and fell and jumbled and lurched – but he could still see their tears through the rain, and their shaking hands, and the bouquet, and that big blue cornflower, and everything, the whole dark gathering beneath him on the wet grass, and the portrait covered in raindrops that crept like small insects down the glass. And the prayer and the poem and the little speech from Italy Veneziano bled like watercolours until he didn’t know what he felt any more.
His head was very heavy, and his neck ached. He turned slowly, still sat upon the damp wood of the terrace with his bird perched on his wrist, and looked out towards the funeral on the lawn. He could not quite see everybody clearly – not without shifting his position somewhat – but he was cold, and stiff, and exhausted, suddenly, which was beyond lame – so he remained where he was, catching the slow, round-shouldered figures clustered silently around his obscured portrait between the wet leaves of a bush planted close to where he sat, which twitched and bounced as droplets of rain dripped systematically from its flowers and stems, plinking rhythmically against the dark soil below.
One figure, slender and straight-backed and proud, with wide, confident strides stepped out of the mournful huddle, and came to stand beside Prussia’s portrait, where the short minister with the thick, round glasses had stood; and then France and Spain, and Italy after them.
Prussia squinted at them through the steady sheet of rain which breathed and washed over the whole of Sanssouci. The figure held an umbrella in one hand, and a couple of slightly crumpled sheets of white printer paper in the other. Between the dripping leaves, Prussia saw long, light brown hair tied back in a respectable bun. Hungary, he thought, and felt mildly surprised. If he’d had to guess, he would have pegged her as the one who would giggle and press a hand over her mouth upon hearing of his death. Bitterly, he supposed that there was still time for her to crow at her victory.
“Bitch,” he said to Gilbird, jerking his head in the woman’s direction. “Thinks she’s so good, thinks she’s going to get Priss all to herself, just wait ‘til I –”
“Gilbert and I,” Hungary was saying, glancing between her pieces of paper and the black crowd who were, by this point, thoroughly soaked, and utterly miserable, “as I’m sure you all know, didn’t really get on very well.” She was not crying; but seemed to take a moment to gather herself before pressing on. “Although, as young children, we were pretty close – you could even have gone so far as to call us friends – as soon as he worked out that I was, in fact, female, I no longer held any interest whatsoever for him; and whenever our paths happened to cross after that, we would inevitably find ourselves arguing about – well...usually nothing.” She smiled weakly.
A couple of people gave soft, polite coughs of laughter.
Prussia tore his gaze away from the funeral, and focused instead upon an old spider’s web, shuddering under the tender weight of several water droplets that clung to its feathery limbs, stretched between the brick wall of the palace, and one of the terrace’s cold, white columns.
He heard Hungary inhale slowly, carefully, a little way off, down upon the lawn. The sound, he told himself, firmly, carried so well because the day was so still, and so quiet. He didn’t pay any attention to what she was saying, obviously – and he told Gilbird this. Gilbird cheeped in approval, and hopped down onto his master’s right kneecap.
“But I wanted to make this short speech because no matter what he thought of me – and I know he didn’t think very highly of me at all – he was still a good person. A very good person.” She took a deep breath. “He was loyal, and brave, and lively, and steadfast...and perhaps these are not the qualities that first spring to mind when we think of Gilbert –” and here she smiled, somewhat bashfully; he could hear the reluctant, embarrassed lift of her cheeks in her voice, though he still refused to turn, and his eyes remained affixed firmly upon the shimmering cobweb above him; the cobweb he could no longer see “– in fact, I can think of several more choice words all of us have used, at some point in time, to describe Gilbert Beilschmidt – but they should be. I want everybody to remember how proud he’s always been of his brother. I want everybody to remember how much he loved his friends. I want everyone to remember his sense of humour, and his bravery, and his enthusiasm and optimism and spirit.”
By this point, Prussia’s jaw was far closer to the ground than it had ever been in his life. He closed his mouth, slowly, and swallowed. Behind him, he heard Hungary inhale deeply, steadying herself once again.
“That – that is what I will try to remember, when I think of him. Perhaps – perhaps...” She trailed off, held the silence for a second – then collected herself, and continued. “I know that I didn’t quite make peace with him before...before he left us...but I believe that smiling when we think about what a great person Gilbert really was is the way he’d have wanted us to say goodbye, and to honour his memory.” She paused, thoughtfully. “And probably by building some kind of giant statue of him in the middle of Königsberg, too, though I’m not too sure about the logistics of that one.”
More soft, muffled laughter.
Prussia sighed, heavily. His breath turned to smoky white before him, briefly, before billowing upwards and fading into nothing. He watched it, gnawing slowly on the inside of his cheek.
“Sorry, Gil,” Hungary said, with half a laugh.
The fattened, heavy grass squeaked meekly, quietly behind him – and Prussia supposed that Hungary was moving back to her place in the crowd. Unable to stop himself, he twisted at the waist; looked through the leaves of the wet bush; through the wooden railings along the edge of the terrace. She was indeed back amongst the others; he saw her offer a small smile to somebody hidden by the dark bodies of their fellow mourners, before taking her place at Austria’s side. The sissy aristocrat’s back was towards him – and so he couldn’t see the man’s face – but his stomach lurched and fluttered a little (which was really gay) – when he saw Hungary touch her companion’s elbow briefly, cautiously, before lowering her hand, and joining it with its partner in front of her stomach.
Prussia sighed, and readjusted himself so that he could study that straight, slender back – so beautifully elegant, even whilst being pelted with rain. Stupid Austria. Stupid, stupid Austria, who, probably at that very second, was wishing he was at home in his fancy manor house, playing his ridiculous piano, and eating his horrible cakes, and drinking Wiener Melange.
Stupid Austria, who shouldn’t have even bothered to turn up if he was going to stand around with his little nose in the air, thinking things like that.
Stupid Austria, who, Prussia was certain, didn’t give a damn about whether he was dead or alive one way or the other.
Stupid Austria, who had absolutely no idea how horribly, maddeningly, disgustingly in love with him Prussia was.
“Fuck,” said Prussia, to Gilbird, wondering at what point he’d become such a fucking pussy.
With difficultly, and some reluctance, he dragged his gaze from the other man’s back, and instead focused on the minister, who was struggling from the congregation in his dragging robes, the hem of his trousers covered in mud and catching beneath the heels of his shiny shoes. His umbrella swayed above him, and his glasses were smeared with rain.
“Now – let us sing a hymn,” said the minister, and there was a lethargic murmur and shuffle as everybody tried to find a hymn sheet.
Prussia huffed, and scowled at his bird, who looked back up at him curiously, head cocked to the side.
The little crowd on the lawns began to sing. There was no musical accompaniment; and it was more than obvious that half of the people there didn’t know the words, or the melody (or both) – but all of a sudden the sky was deepest burgundy above his head, and his horse was snorting and pawing beneath him (he liked horses with a bit of fire in them), and a little way ahead, England and France rode side-by-side, bickering quietly, and in front of them, Hungary rode with no reins, stretching her arms heavenwards, sighing as her sore back popped and stretched (poor horse, Prussia had thought, observing its heavy sweat. Hungary kept holding it back so she could gallop to catch up), and just behind him, on a handsome grey stallion, pale and sickly-looking in the unusual heat, was Austria, his hands tender and tentative on the reins.
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.
Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.
All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than Thou, my Savior, art to me.
Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.
The black-garbed funeral attendees sang for his memory in the gardens of Sanssouci; and behind him, the armies who had come to the Holy Lands for him and his faith roared it as they pressed closer to Acre.
He remembered the way Austria’s eyes had fallen and fixed upon him when he’d spurred his horse to a gallop, and raced across the sands to the approaching crusaders. He could have recognised those eyes from a mile off (because he had such awesome vision, of course.)
France and Hungary had stood up in their saddles, and waved, and called “Teuton!” and England, who was just reaching that gangly stage, and was terribly ugly, had nodded, and the men had cheered...and Austria had watched him, shoulders tight and mouth slightly open.
The hymn had continued all night, winding like a warm breeze between the tents – and together they had watched the walls of Acre.
“Richard’s siege weaponry will bring it down,” England had said, haughtily, and France had snorted, and asked why Richard spent so much time in his country, and so little in England’s land. He had then gone on to make some very vulgar comments about the nature of Richard and his own Philip’s relationship – and it was at this point that England started yelling at him. The two of them, and Hungary, had left for their own tents shortly afterwards.
He remembered the way Austria had gazed vacantly into the fire before them. Austria had been the very first to arrive at Acre, he’d heard, along with Leopold, after Holy Rome’s leader had died, and, along with most of his troops, the boy had turned around and gone home. Prussia had sent a very irritated letter to his brother about the importance of not laying down and quitting when he’d first found out. The time spent there was clearly taking its toll on Austria, who was tired, and thin, and obviously unaccustomed to spending so much time on the move, and fighting.
He could remember Austria’s little hands – and his round cheeks – and that pointed chin – from so, so long ago. Austria was still small, but there was a shade of manhood there, in his straight cheekbones, and his long fingers.
“I was beginning to wonder when you’d get here,” Austria had said, suddenly.
Back in Sanssouci, the words echoed in his head, fought through the pulsing rain.
“I had other things to deal with,” Prussia had said. “King Guy –”
“I know.” Austria fiddled with a loose thread on his cloak. “I – I am glad you are here now, Teuton.” He had looked up. The fire had flickered in his large, violet eyes, and across his lovely face.
He remembered feeling slightly lost, and scared, and excited all at once, without really knowing why. He had been such a child, he thought.
“You know so much about war,” Austria had continued, quietly. He had looked down at his worn boots. His face was a little red. “You all do – but especially you.” Prussia had watched him furtively. “You must...you must think very little of me, just swanning in with my Duke and taking your brother’s troops...as though I know what I am doing.” He smiled, wryly, and looked up at Prussia.
“I – I – uh...I mean, it’s, uh...yes. You don’t...you don’t really. It’ll be fine,” he managed, eventually, and, on the terrace, Prussia rubbed a hand over his face, and wished that he was able to throttle his younger self. “I mean...I’ll...I’m here now. I can help you.” He’d looked up at the stars, and the moon then, hoping the cooler air, away from the fire, would settle his burning cheeks.
Austria had gazed at him a moment longer, then shuffled a little closer, across the sand, and murmured, “Alright. You can be my knight.”
Prussia had thought that his head might explode.
“Thank you, Teuton,” Austria had whispered, and leaned over – just a little bit closer – and pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. “Thank you.”
He remembered staying there at the fireside, long after Austria was gone, his fingertips disbelievingly patting the spot that the other boy had kissed.
And back in Sanssouci, listening to the hymn fade away, and paper crinkling, and rain falling above his head, he did the same thing, with eyes half-shut, fancying that he could still feel the hot lick of the fire; and the scratch of the sand and dry, stubborn grass against his legs and the palms of his hands; and the warm tickle of nervous breath against his sweaty skin; and the brush of damp, tangled brown hair; and the cool tip of a slender nose; and the softness of beautiful, perfectly crafted lips whose ghost he had held onto for the past eight hundred and twenty years.
He glanced out towards the funeral again – examined that lovely, rigid back – and thought about them all; how they’d come to fight for him, and for God – and how they’d all come to sing for him now, and make soppy speeches, and read poems and things – and he smiled.
And he wondered if Austria was also thinking about their history.
And he wondered if Austria remembered that kiss.
The featured hymn is known as Fairest Lord Jesus and Crusader’s Hymn, and was, according to some accounts, sung by German crusaders as they made their way towards Jerusalem, the Holy Land. In German, it is known as Schönster Herr Jesu.
The crusade depicted is the Third Crusade, which took place between 1189 and 1192, and, though it was largely successful, the Christian crusaders failed to recapture Jeruslam. Instead, a treaty was signed between King Richard I of England, and Saladin, Sultan of Egypt and Syria, stating that though Jerusalem was to remain under Muslim control, Christian pilgrims and traders would be permitted to visit the city.
Thanks again for your wonderful comments and messages :D I really appreciate them, and I’m glad you like the story!