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.
At last the singing ended, and the sky above was once more heavy, pouring marble instead of wine-red with slaughter and Christian victory, and the people on the lawn below were his mourning friends and acquaintances rather than hot-blooded soldiers come to fight for him and for their own atonement. Prussia remained sat on the cold floor of the terrace, cross-legged, one eye roving slowly across the black crowd that stood almost directly behind him. He was chilled, and damp, and the others who did not see him, but soaked and sighed around his empty grave, were much the same. He wondered uninterestedly if they would call it a day soon, and make a dash for the palace, or their cars, before hurrying to the party that they would undoubtedly hold. They would drink, he thought, and soon their original purpose would be lost among swirls of alcohol and laughter and cigarette smoke, and he had just decided, firmly and with a great deal of pre-emptive irritation, that it would be then when he chose to reveal himself, vengeful and mighty (even when he would, he mused, bear more than a passing resemblance to a drowned rat), causing them all to fall to their knees in reverent terror – when he caught sight of somebody moving forth again, and his heart fell past his stomach and his thighs and his knees, and far, far below his toes.
The minister had stepped aside once more, and the crowd was utterly silent and still, and there, at the head of the mourners, shoulders hunkered down, with no speech written upon paper to aid him, was –
Lame, he thought, Lame, lame, lame, lame, lame. But his heart was racing, and his stupid, traitorous stomach was doing that completely unawesome thing it sometimes (always) did when Austria was in the general vicinity.
Why, he thought, trying to ignore the fact that, at the first sighting of the aristocrat stepping forth, his whole body had twisted one hundred and eighty degrees, his hands had flown upwards to grab the wooden railing, and he had leapt as if burned to his feet, Why the fuck was Austria up at the front? Austria hated him, hated him, he knew it. He was certain. He swore softly, under his breath, and Gilbird fluttered to the railing to join him.
“Fucking –” he said to his bird. “That fucking – pansy.” If Little Miss Sissy ruined his funeral by playing the piano, or reading a wimpy poem about cakes or flowers or something...something gay like that, he was going to –
“I’m...I’m not going to stand up here, and tell you all what a – what a wonderful, beautiful person Gilbert Beilschmidt was,” Austria began, and...were those...tearstains on his cheeks? Prussia’s stomach did that damnable swooping thing again, and he swallowed, hard, “because I would have imagined you all know that already.” He glared round the assembly with red-rimmed eyes, as if daring them all to disagree with him.
Prussia did not move. His breath was caught in his tightened throat, and his hands shook upon the wet rail. His knuckles were white and high, tearing through his skin.
“Instead, I want to talk about – about something small. One – one little thing he used to do that always stuck in my head and –” and suddenly he was mouthing words, and no sound was coming out, and if it hadn’t just hit Prussia that Austria had called him beautiful he would have realised that Austria had actually started to cry. His brain went into a nose-dive, and for a few strange and difficult moments, he could not hear, or see, or feel or smell or taste a damn thing.
He blinked frantically, trying to regain his vision – and he swallowed in a weak effort to unblock his ears. Finally, Sanssouci, watery and shaking, swam back into view, and he heard Gilbird cheep close beside him, and Austria’s quiet, unpleasantly posh voice was wavering towards his ears, and he wasn’t trembling, oh fuck no, he wasn’t wussing out. Austria, a little way off, was adjusting his glasses with long, quivering fingers, and saying:
“I want to talk about the way he always left his...dirty boots in the middle of my hallway.” The bump in the centre of the other man’s throat rose, and sank back down, slowly. “So many times – week after week, month after month, year after year – I would be in the music room, playing my piano, when I would hear a thump outside – just a quiet sound, barely audible, in fact. And week after week, month after month, year after year, as though I was surprised, and I didn’t know what is was, I would lift my hands from the keyboard, and stand up, and go out, through the drawing room and into the hallway. The front door would be closed, as would the doors to the kitchen and the conservatory and the dining room. And every – every time, I would go and stand at the bottom of the stairs, and I would listen.” Austria paused; swallowed again.
Prussia eyed the other man from his position upon the terrace. He looked paler than Prussia had ever seen him; his hair was soaked and tangled, plastered to his scalp, and the skin beneath his lovely – no, girly, girly – violet eyes was grey and sagging.
He looked exhausted.
He looked like a mess.
He looked like the most perfect thing Prussia had ever seen.
“And I would l-listen,” Austria continued, his voice beginning to quaver slightly, “and – I would hear nothing. And then, I would turn around, and behind me, right in the middle of the floor – I would see a pair of brown leather lace-up boots, covered with mud, and the remnants of my flower beds, scuffed and scratched, just lying there – tossed onto the tiles, scattering little bits of dried-up dirt ev-everywhere.
“And so I would go to the kitchen, and into the broom cupboard, and I would get a dustpan and brush, and a sheet of old newspaper, and then I would go back to the hallway and sweep up the dirt, and throw it outside, and put the boots on the newspaper in the corner next to my front door. And – and I would do this ev-every time.”
Prussia pressed his lips together, and stood still and stiff, leaning almost all of his weight upon the wooden railing before him. His spine was frozen.
Even from where he stood, he fancied that he saw Austria’s lower lip trembling.
Austria closed his eyes, and composed himself, his fingertips ghosting across the lapels of his coat briefly, before continuing to speak.
“An-and so...so then I would...I would go back into the music room – and I would sit back down at my piano, and re-organize my sheets of music – and just as I laid my hands down upon the keys and began to play, Gilbert would pop up from behind the piano and grab my manuscripts and send them flying all over the floor.” He chuckled softly; sadly. “And every time – every single time, week after week, month after month, year after year – l would slam down the lid, and turn to him, and yell, What are you doing here? And every time he’d just cackle, and sprawl over the piano, and steal my spectacles from my face.”
Prussia bit down on the inside of his cheek. Austria’s gaze fell for a second, and his lips twitched sadly.
“I would yell at him to get off my piano, and he would just look back at me with that big, insolent grin, and he wouldn’t – he wouldn’t move a muscle. And so then I’d stand up, and I’d grab hold of his arms, and try to pull him up, and he’d just...he’d just let himself go floppy, and sag down to the ground, and lie there, like a damn b-beached whale!”
Soft laughter. Despite himself, Prussia found the corner of his lips quirking upwards. Austria smiled too; then looked back down at his hands; caught the tip of his tongue between his teeth.
“So I’d give up; I couldn’t move that – that s-silly lump an-anywhere...and I’d put my hands on my hips, and say, What do you want this time, you fool? And he’d laugh, and look up at me from the floor, and say, You should be thanking me, Little Master – he would always...always call me those...those r-ridiculous nicknames – you should be thanking me; I’ve made your...I’ve made your house t-ten times more awe-awesome just by being in it! And I would say, I know you, you’re here because you’re a freeloader, and you think that if you p-pester me long enough I’ll f-feed you...and then – and then he’d smile even more widely at me, and jump to his feet, and say, Well, that’s not really why I came, but i-if you’re o-offering –”
Austria stopped; raised one clenched fist; pressed it to his heart. His eyes were closed, Prussia thought, squinting through the incessantly vertical rain. He watched noiselessly.
“And – and then I’d do it. Week after week, month after month, year after year. I’d go to the kitchen, and I’d grumble about how I spent more money on stupid cakes for him than on feeding myself or – or maintaining the condition of my house...and I’d bake him those cakes, and he’d sit at the kitchen table, legs crossed, one – one elbow resting on the wood, and his chin in his hand – and watch me, and he wouldn’t say anything; he’d...he’d just smile. Then I’d give him the damned cakes, and he – and he’d smirk, and make some smart comment about how he had my – my...” Austria blushed. “My – vital regions – in the palm of his hand, and how I couldn’t help but bow down to – to his...awe-awesomeness...and he’d let his little bird hop all over the table, and it was so – so unhygienic, but I – I never made him take it away – and then he’d leave the plate on the table, and not – not bother to clean up after himself – and he’d stroll out of the kitchen, and I’d chase after him, and – and shout at him to get out, and he’d just laugh at me, and pretend he was about to – to trip me over, or he’d pull my hair, or turn my glasses upside-down – and some-sometimes, he’d fall asleep on my sofa...or sit on the floor beside my piano and press the high C over and over again. And then eventually he’d take his boots and his bird, and he’d go outside, and slam the door – and leave.”
Austria stopped, closing his eyes again. He seemed tired. Another small tear was slowly struggling down his pale cheek.
Prussia’s front teeth made acquaintance with his lower lip, and pressed into it until a strong, metallic taste began to fill his mouth. He felt sick.
“And – week after week, month after month, year after year,” Austria said, and his voice was so soft and breathy Prussia had to strain to hear it, “I would be playing my piano, and I would hear the thud from outside, and go out into the hallway to find those dirty leather boots – week after week, month after month, year after year.” He paused; made a strange little choked sound. “And – and I thought they’d always be there.”
“I – I loved seeing those boots. And the dirt. And my manuscripts all over the music room floor. And the mess on my kitchen table. And – him.” He paused, and, in a voice so soft Prussia almost thought it was nothing but a dream, added: “I miss him.” He stood still, for a long moment; doing nothing to stop the tears now peeping out from beneath his glasses.
Prussia’s hands were not shaking, because he was not overwhelmed with the sudden, frightening, thrilling, downright painful realisation that Austria might – might – might just feel some kind of affection from him. And his breath was not frozen in his constricted lungs, because he hadn’t noticed the tremble of Austria’s wet, sadness-swollen red lips. And his jaw was definitely not shuddering, and if it was, it was because of the cold, hard rain, and not because of that lovely, breaking voice and that stupid speech which was a eulogy; not a confession, no, there was absolutely no chance of it being that sort of thing...
Austria’s stricken face tilted skywards for a moment, and his grieving mouth opened, as though he hoped to breathe in the thick water that was pouring down upon him, upon the funeral, upon the palace and its gardens, and have it crush his windpipe which seemed to struggle still with half-hidden, long-suppressed sobs. And then he looked down again, down at his feet, at the solid, waterlogged earth, and his white hand rose to cover his mouth. His fingers strained, hard, and his glasses were finally so fogged up that Prussia could not see those well-known eyes beyond – but, unbidden, the image of dark brown lashes decked with round, crystalline tears came to him as he at long last looked away from that stupid, beautiful aristocrat, and down at the delicate stems and leaves of a lush green plant beneath the terrace, crawling with rainwater.
Gilbird whistled once, tilting his small, round head to one side as he peered curiously up at his master.
Prussia looked down at his companion, slowly. The bird cheeped again, and hopped onto one of his fingers, which were all still gripping the wooden railing along the front of the terrace as if for dear life. Very gradually, Prussia came to the realisation that such a firm hold rather hurt. He let go, half-expecting to see the wood splintering in the places he had touched. His little bird remained perched upon the index finger of his left hand.
A short way before the two of them, on the soaked lawn, Austria was moving back to his place in the crowd, almost limping, clearly exhausted. Prussia thought about every movement he’d ever seen the other man make – every slightly clumsy lunge with a sword he couldn’t quite keep balanced...every elegant, whirling step in a ballroom he himself had felt hot and uncomfortable in...every sharp duck, tug at his horse’s reins, every dodge in the heat of long-ago religious battles...every narrow-eyed glare he’d ever thrown Prussia’s way...every fluid stroke of those fingers, of those willowy arms across the strings of a violin or the black and white keys of a piano...every toss of that beautiful head, strain of that slender, delicious body, every widening or gasp of those luscious lips he had yet to lay claim to but had pictured a thousand times over on a thousand nights, lonely and with some faceless conquest in a dark, heated bed...
He swore, yet again, and rubbed his eyes with the ends of his shaking fingers. Gilbird continued to eye him, as if considering his situation with mild amusement.
“It’s...” Prussia began, haltingly. “It’s...still hilarious...it’s still – awesome – right, Gilbird?” he said managed, at last.
The bird just looked at him.
“Hmm,” said Prussia. “I see...”
He looked back down towards the crowd. Austria looked to be buckling under the weight of the weather.
“Well, shit,” said Prussia, and he tasted blood from his lip, and salt from his eye, and he leaned forwards, over the rail, and covered his face with his free hand. He was tired. “What the hell do I do now?”