Italy X HRE X Germany
Flames of Eternity
Huddled around a warm fireplace sat three boys laughing and teasing each other. There were cookies placed on a glass table nearby next to tall glasses filled with chocolate milk. The aroma of bakeries and hot chocolate filled the warm cozy room, and the warmth of the fireplace gave a calm yet lively atmosphere. There was an old man with kind blue eyes sitting on a rocking chair. He sat there smiling to himself as he watched his three grandsons tackle each other, each wanting to get to the dish of pastries before the other.
The snow was silently drifting from the skies around the log cabin. Its small farmyard and brightly lit room seemed so welcoming against the cold bitter surroundings. The tall sturdy trees, barricading their house from the dangers of the forest, stood silently listening to the sounds of the forest and the snow. There was a small smoke house on the side of the cabin for when they were to smoke the meat to store for winter. A large pile of wood was prepared in the corner for their fire. Two horses were sleeping soundly, hidden away in their dry and warm stables, as dusk fell upon them.
As the young boys finished their share of cookies and warm milk, their grandfather called them over. He was about to start telling them one of his magnificent tales about the outside world. No one really knew if the grandfather had experienced these things or not, but everyone enjoyed the way he made the stories sound so enthralling and the way his deep and mesmerizing voice always had the boys squirming with excitement. A hushed silence fell over them as the grandfather began speaking. He had before spoken of faraway kingdoms and merchants, whom he met on his travels sharing with him unimaginable tales of witchcraft and hidden treasures. The boys have never heard of such a story so lonely and sad, that they were grateful for the love and freedom they had. Never had the grandfather described a story so…truthful.
As the story starts, the room fades away and all concentration is focused on him. The children’s eyes were gleaming with anticipation as their grandfather starts off the tale about a little boy about their age, maybe younger, who learns of true happiness.
The sun’s rays shining radiantly off the tip of the church tower never ceased to amaze the little boy. The bars holding him off from the world were the things he despised the most yet he couldn’t feel enough gratitude for them. Holding out all the danger from the outside. This little boy, no more than twelve years old, lived in a small-enclosed room. The windows peeked over the road just enough for him to see the people’s legs as they walked past, unaware of his very existence.
No one could see him; he was no more than an indistinct being doomed to spend eternity in this cellar, prohibiting him from ever being free and from ever moving on. The boy had golden hair and stunning blue eyes and once had all the freedom in the world. Now when he mattered no more to his people or to anybody, his spirit had dwindled, leaving him as a faint memory to the world. This little boy was once called the Holy Roman Empire. Even though he was little, he was hundreds of years old and has been through more than anyone could imagine. This same boy who spent his days looking after a whole nation, keeping it from being conquered, and had fallen in love with a country whom he knew would never be his. He still remembered her face. Sun-kissed and smiling, with her soft brown locks and a cute little curl that stood out, always catching his attention.
He called her Italy. Thinking of her brought a ghost of a smile to his lips, for he no longer had the energy or capability of feeling anymore. His heart felt hollow and he ever felt so desperate and alone.
Once every few days a group of boys, a bit older than him, would come and play games together in the park across the street, and it would be his greatest joy watching them running around and laughing. How he longed to be able to run with them, to feel the blades of grass tickling his feet and the breeze of the trees caressing his face again. The light in the sky was dimming and dusk was falling upon them. The little boys collected their things and headed home, leaving the Holy Roman Empire alone as night fell.
His legs were getting sore and tired from standing by the window all day looking out into the world. Even though he knew that everyday he would still see the black asphalt lane with the lush park across the road and the tall grand trees. A small pond, which sometimes had ducks swimming around in it, would sometimes be his only source of entertainment. He knew every feature in the park by heart, having looked upon it for as long as he could remember. He knew there was a bakery nearby; for he could always smell the beautiful aroma of bread and pastries, which would make is mouth water. The regular early morning costumers would always past with a bag full of delicious looking bread.
It got darker and the boy shifted uncomfortably in his spot, stepping down from the boxes he had leaned against the wall to see out the window. As he was receding back into his dimly lit room, something caught his eye. The streetlights were now on, shining circular beams onto the ground. He vaguely saw shapes walking in the park. One…no…two figures were walking side by side. This is strange, he thought, people in this small town don’t usually walk around much during the dark hours. He could faintly hear them talking to each other. Their voices were hushed, but he could see the immediate difference between the two. One walked with a straighter posture, holding an air of command and intimidation around him, while the other had a more playful and happy vibe that the boy seemed to be attracted to. They had decided to sit on a park bench and continued talking. The smaller figure couldn’t help throwing his arms in the air, talking loudly and nudging the other who seemed really annoyed, and kept telling him to lower his voice. Their actions amused the boy, for he never saw two people more attracted to each other, even though the scarier one’s behavior told otherwise.
The boy could now see the stars twinkling brightly in contrast to the black sky and the full moon shining softly in the night. A song started playing in his head bringing back happy and painful memories. Where had it come from? He couldn’t remember hearing this song before and yet it seemed like he’s heard it all his life. The lyrics were unclear, but two particular words kept replying itself over and over again in his head. ‘Belle Notte’… it truly described this night. The glistening stars scattered by the angels themselves complimented the beautiful moon. The perfectly shaped trees, bowing on both sides into each other, formed an arch over the two strangers, seeming like a scene out of a fairytale. The street lights and the tarmac road seemed like little props set up just to remind people that this was still the small park they walked past in the day.
As if to add on to the moment, a shooting star lit up a trail in the sky, and another memory came into the boy’s mind. He could remember Italy telling him about making a wish whenever a star fell from the heavens. That was the first time the boy ever heard of such stories, and he had always wondered if Italy’s stories were true. For the sake of old times and also a feeling of hope, the boy stared up at the empty space where the star had gone by and prayed and wished with all his might. He wished that one day he would be able to go home again to his family, even if Austria was a bully sometimes and Hungary really got on his nerves, but he loved them all the same. His biggest wish was to see Italy’s smiling face once more. Please, please, he added. He squeezed his eyes shut and made his wish, throwing it out there for the night to soak up.
He almost missed as the two people got up from the bench and started walking along the road. When they stopped under a street lamp close by, the boy stared stunned at the familiarity of the taller man’s face. Blazing blue eyes were staring at his partner. With slicked back blonde hair, and furrowing brows would seem hostile to a stranger, but it was oddly comforting to the boy. He seemed like someone the boy once knew in a distant memory, but he just couldn’t find it in himself to remember. The smaller man with brown hair was facing his blonde companion, so the boy couldn’t see his face, but something about him seemed too familiar, like the boy had also known him once long ago. When the man turned around to admire the night surrounding them, the boy gasped in shock. His heart was striking against his ribcage and his breath caught in his throat. His surprised reaction almost sent him toppling back off the boxes.
That…that face… no… it couldn’t be. Maybe after all these years of yearning so much for the one thing he couldn’t have, his mind was finally going insane. That was Italy’s face! There was no mistaking it, and…that curl. He could feel his face heat up with the long lost emotions. After all this time, he finally got to meet her again. He stopped himself though, this couldn’t be her, because that was a guy and girls and guys are different…but his face, it was the perfect replica. That smile, those chocolate brown eyes. Tears welled up in the little boy’s dark blue eyes threatening to spill over.
“Italy…” he whispered. For the first time since forever, he finally could breathe again. “Italy!” he cried louder, desperately wanting the Italian to answer his plea. He cried harder now, tears washing down his pale smooth cheeks. No, I will not give up; he’s so close now. He has to know I’m here, that I have been waiting.
“Hey-a, Germany? Did you-a hear something?” The Italian asked curiously. He swore he could’ve heard his name faintly being called somewhere in the distance.
“Nein, I don’t zink so. You are zhinking too much, there is no one zhere.” Germany answered while surveying their surroundings. Though he had to admit, he himself felt a presence somewhere nearby. Though he did not think much of it, he couldn’t help but feel the presence oddly comforting.
“Italy…please…please, just listen. I’m right here” the boy called out in between sobs. No! Verdammt, this couldn’t be happening. They were so close! The boy thought shaking his head furiously. Suddenly he remembered something, his most treasured belonging Italy gave him before he left long ago. Italy’s prized bush broom. He stumbled down from the heap of boxes and frantically searched his small room, turning over tables and varies stacks of books. Reaching under his bed he finally got a grasp of something that he once cried over at days end, remembering their goodbye kiss.
“Ve~ Germany, I’m really sure someone called me. I can’t shake off this feeling” Italy looked worriedly to the place he had heard the voice from. He began walking to a nearby building.
“Wa-warte mal! Italy! Someone could probably be luring you into a trap. Don’t vander off like zhat. Vait for me” Germany quickly caught up to the Italian, looking a bit frustrated.
Holy Rome now held the dusty, worn out broom in his small hands. With a determined look on his face, he marched to the window, preparing to wave the broom out and attract Italy’s attention. Why hadn’t he thought of this before? He really must be losing it. As he looked out the window, he saw Italy walking way past where he was and he immediately become anxious.
“Hey-a Germany. I don’t hear the voice anymore and I forgot where it came from. Do you-a remember?” Italy looked around him, but saw no signs of anything. Just building walls and windows. He looked to where Germany was and saw him walking up to a certain building and kneeling down.
The boy was going to start crying again for the fear of losing Italy. He almost jumped out of his skin when he saw a pair of black combat boots stopping right in front of his window. It’s…it’s the blonde man’s. He thought. He backed away a bit from the window, uncertain. The man was kneeling down to look into the window. He was so surprised, because this sanctuary was supposed to be invisible to any human, unless they were a country. Could the man be a country? The boy considered the thought.
He felt tremors run down his body as icy-blue eyes met with his equally blue ones. Both of them froze in shock, unable to find words, as recognition hit them like a tidal wave. In that moment the boy knew who the man was. It was himself, or an older version, that is. They were the same people; the only difference was that Holy Rome was stuck, unable to move on, in a different era of time. His fate was decided once he failed to win the war and his soul was torn apart, taken by different countries. Now that he finally met Italy and his true self, he could be reunited with the country he was always meant to be. He took step forwards, hands outreached, towards the figure of the strong nation. The man also held out his hand through the bars of the window, his eyes glistening with tears, as he recognized the part of him that he had been missing all along. The part of him he was missing all this time, the one concealing all his strong emotions and happiness.
Before their fingers met Italy came rushing to Germany. He tackled the bigger man to the ground, away from where Holy Rome was.
“Germany! What-a are you-a doing? Are-a you ok? Ludwig! You’re crying? What’s-a wrong? What happened?...” Italy bombarded him with questions, scared at his current appearance. Ludwig never cried. Something must have made him very upset. After the German nation finally was able to reassure him that he was fine, Italy seemed to calm down a little. From all the panic and confusion, a few tears ran down the Italian man’s face. Germany sighed as Italy buried his face in his shirt and sobbed. He wasn’t good with these things. He awkwardly patted the Italy’s back and Italy cried even harder.
Holy Rome stared in surprised at Italy’s sudden appearance, and what followed was too much for the boy to handle.
“Italy! Feli, please don’t cry!” Holy Rome desperately called out. To his utter astonishment, the Italian nation’s sobs came to an end. He slowly turned around to face the boy, and multiple emotions seemed to cross his face at once. From confusion, to happiness, to sorrow, then finally he settled with a huge grin. His hands were trembling as he reached towards the small boy and for once no words seemed to find its way into the Italian’s thoughts.
Suddenly, before Italy could come any closer, the steal bars seemed to disintegrate before their eyes. It turned to dust and was washed away by the uplifting soar of the wind. As Ludwig was busy trying to dust himself off from the filth on the road, he didn’t see as Feli helped the boy scramble out from his prison-like room.
“Italy!” The boy hugged the tall man with every ounce of happiness he had ever felt.
Italy knelt down to the boy’s height and let him cry onto his shoulder. For a long time they stayed like that, in each other’s embrace, until the boy looked up from Italy’s shoulder and searched for the man named Ludwig. At first he felt panicked when he didn’t see him, but soon relaxed as he saw him leaning against a building nearby, staring up at the sky, a smile planted on his usually stern face.
Feliciano let go of the boy and also turning to face where Ludwig was standing and smiled as he saw a look of pure happiness on his friend’s face.
Feli got up and took the boy’s hand in his as they walked up to Ludwig. He should have seen this before, but the resemblance they both held was too near perfect. The blue hue of their eyes, and the slicked back blonde hair, but Holy Rome was still young and didn’t have the serious and stressful look the German mostly held. He should’ve known when he first saw Germany, that his childhood friend was part of this nation he grew to love. Though they both were intimidating and scary, they still cared very much for their friends and always tried to do the best they can in what ever situation they are given.
Ludwig sensing their approach and straightened up from his position. Still smiling he looked down at the former Holy Roman Empire. The little boy looked up at the towering nation and smiled back a toothy grin. He was finally reunited with the past that left a gap in his heart and when he took hold of the boy’s hand, he could feel everything he had lost. From suffering and longing to relief and overwhelming happiness, he wondered how the little boy could harbor such strong emotions.
“It’s ok, from now on we vill always protect you” Germany whispered to the boy, a tear slipping from his eye. Italy watched, overjoyed at this reunification and instinctively wrapped them both in a tight hug. They all laughed and cried at the same time. All of them finally finding the one thing they were missing all their lives and now they found the best thing of all; Family.
This was everything he ever wanted. It might not be the Italy he had once known, but he still loved this Italy, and he could never have asked for a better family.
‘I guess wishing upon a star really works’, he smiled to himself. This was the best wish he had ever made.
I am home again.
The grandfather clasped his hands together and let out a tired breath. That was by far the longest story he had ever told, but it was also the most important to him. His grandsons were holding on to each other, their eyes wet with tears.
“Grandpa~” They said in unison as they ran all together towards the old man. Each was clinging onto their grandfather’s shirt, holding on tightly and one of them was silently crying.
“Now, now boys. Big and strong boys like mine don’t cry, now do they?” The grandfather spoke, secretly wiping tears from his own eyes. They all huddled together in a big hug, their love burning warmer than all the fireplaces in the world. The grandfather moved to the big coach with the boys still clinging onto him. As he sat there, the boys soon fell asleep from the warmth of the fire and the satisfying story they would never forget. His memories danced along with the flames in the fireplace as he gazed at the bush broom in the corner.
It is true, He smiled, I am home.