For all the physical and emotional pain, uncertainty, and frustration it was capable of inflicting on a soul, sometimes life was truly, marvelously wonderful.
Germany couldn’t have been in higher spirits; tonight was his night to shine like a star, to bask in the glow of beautiful, glorious victory, to hear his praises sung, both as a man and as a nation! He was a special guest of honor at formal celebration to be hosted by officials of his government, a large social event to recognize those German soldiers who had made the most impressive contributions to the quick and easy victories in Belgium, those who had displayed exceptional courage, skill, wit, and camaraderie regardless of age, rank, or specific duties. It was an occasion for fancy clothes and impeccable etiquette: there would be fine food, fine drink, and likely fine entertainment, probably in the form of a short play and/or a live band to provide music to dance by after all the speeches were given and all the awards had been handed out. Ludwig wasn’t sure specifically which awards he would be given — they were intended to be a surprise, after all — but he was quite certain that his superiors had noticed his iron-courage, extreme enthusiasm, and through-the-roof kill and capture counts. Indeed and truly, he was the perfect example of everything a soldier should be: strong, bold, loyal, obedient, tenacious, fit, and above all, damn good at what he did
. He hadn’t been keeping tally, but he had to have either killed or wounded at least three-hundred Belgians, and either captured or helped to capture at least as many, including — and this was the cherry on top of the cake, his single most crowning achievement to date — the very living, breathing, embodiment of Belgium herself.
Ah yes, that…that had been fun
! Ever since he’d arrived at Brandenburg and Prussia’s residence to pick Brandenburg up for the event he’d been eager to share that story with her, the story of how he had met and fought his first nation in a dilapidated old castle, how he had trapped and utterly conquered her despite her iron will, decent shooting skill, and warrior’s spirit. Poor little Belgium — she’d given her best, and her best hadn’t been good enough. Now she had taken her rightful place as a servant to Germany and Prussia. And she was only the first of what would soon be many, the warmup act. As far as wars went, this one was getting off to a brilliant start.
For the time being, however, Ludwig had clamped the urge to spill the beans. He knew Amelie well enough to know that she was the type of woman who needed a few minutes to calm down once she’d been excited by the arrival of a person whom she hadn’t seen in a while — especially family — and it had been months since she had seen him. And sure enough she’d doted on and fussed over him the moment he had arrived, correcting every miniscule imperfection in his attire whether real or imagined and coming frighteningly close to combing his hair and washing his face.
Ludwig had been expecting it, and while outwardly he showed mild annoyance at being pampered in such a way secretly he didn’t mind it — Amelie’s eagle-eye for fashion and appearance would keep him looking his best all evening long, and though he wouldn’t admit it he had come to miss her company. Because the way he viewed his relationship with Gilbert had begun to shift, and because he still thought of Amelie in the same way he always had, Ludwig found that his familial relationship to the ex nation was turning a bit weird. In the past he’d always thought of Gilbert as his father and Amelie as kind of a curious cross between a stepmother and an aunt — he’d never been able to make up his mind if she felt more like one or the other. Now that Gilbert was increasingly feeling more and more like a big brother to him it felt a little odd sometimes to think that his brother was romantically involved with his aunt/stepmother. But it wasn’t too odd, he reminded himself, given that kinship terms were pretty arbitrary when it came to nations, since they didn’t biologically reproduce the way humans did. Hell, sometimes sibling nations were romantically involved with each other, even when they were the same sex. And where most humans would be up in arms over — or at the very least uncomfortable with — such incestuous homosexual relationships even amongst people not related by blood, most of their kind didn’t think it strange or disgusting at all. The life of a nation could be so bizarre sometimes: in so many ways they were just like their human citizens, and in so many ways they weren’t.
Joyous reunions and funny feelings aside, Amelie looked absolutely stunning
tonight. Her extremely fancy and expensive-looking black, white, and silver dress glittered and sparkled, her hair and makeup were done with expert finesse , and every accessory had been chosen carefully to create the perfect look. Indeed, she looked more like a goddess who had just walked out of some supernatural place than a nation or former nation, and it would have been nigh impossible for her to look better.
Ludwig had put extra time and care into his personal appearance too: a perfectly-ironed Prussian blue military dress uniform accentuated by a white undershirt, white gloves, black trim, a black belt, and black combat boots made up his attire. For accessories he had his military rank and the few decorations he had earned to date pinned over his left chest, an ornate silver belt buckle depicting the German/Prussian eagle with smaller, matching cufflinks, and the silver and black iron cross which he wore with great pride under his throat, attached to his neck by a red, black, and gold ribbon. His honey-blonde hair was neatly combed and slicked back with macassar oil. He knew he looked dashing, and he couldn’t wait to turn the heads of beautiful young women.
While she fussed over him, Amelie casually asked about his battles and what he had been up to. Ludwig told her a little about what it had been like to sit in the trenches ( exciting right at first, but boring by the third day ), scout ahead, and help push the front lines forward, and though he was more subtle about it than Prussia would have been there was nonetheless a boasting undercurrent to his voice when he spoke of how Belgium’s best fortresses had been powderised by his howitzers and how the Belgian military hadn’t been much of a challenge. Amelie appeared to be listening intently enough, but he’d already decided he was saving the best for last, that the car would be the best place to share his most exciting story.
Amelie seemed to be in almost as high of spirits as he was — she twined her arm around his as they left the house. “I heard that you were going to be awarded something tonight. What brave feat of valour could it be from?” “I don’t know,”
Ludwig honestly admitted, taking the keys and failing to notice the way his stepmother/aunt seemed to be waiting for something, “I can think of several things they might want to award me for. I’ll probably get something for courage. Maybe something for skill and devotion to duty. Or they might have noticed that I wounded, captured, or killed more of the enemy that most soldiers.”
After quickly inspecting the car and performing all the necessary pre-ignition requirements, he got in on the driver’s side and started the engine. Seeing Amelie in the passenger seat with the door shut, he put the car into gear and started off.
While he liked driving well enough, Ludwig looked forward to future advances in automobile technology. Even though his car was one of the newest on the market maintaining it was just as much a chore as maintaining a tank, and it would be nice if it could go faster than 55 km/h without simulating a small earthquake on its passengers.
He was just about to start his story when Amelie spoke up. “This is nice. A shame Gilbert couldn't attend. Or lucky for you, I suppose,”
Her voice was light and merry, her expression playful. “It'll save you from his insane boasts and toasts. And the wild stories.”“True,”
Ludwig’s eyes were back on the road now. “No one can boast like my brother. If you listen to him he’s the best of the best at everything and all of our victories are because of him. He is the best fighter I’ve ever seen, but now that I’ve fought alongside him so many times I’ve noticed he tends to overexaggerate things. He’s always telling the story a little differently than I remember it.”
He paused, thoughtful. “Actually, I’m surprised I didn’t notice it sooner. Innocence of youth, I guess.”
There was a shrug in his tone. He cast a quick glance to Amelie before returning his eyes to the road, which had just started to turn around a beautiful wooded hill. “Even so, I wish he could be here tonight.”
He did, too. He was sure that Gilbert would be proud of him, would probably be awarded something as well. He was all grown up now into the powerful nation Gilbert had always promised to make him, and if this caliber of recognition couldn’t prove it to the albino he didn’t know what could, but more than anything he was curious as to what his father/brother would think of a certain change he had made, a change which would definitely come up at the event.
He was curious as to what Amelie would think of it too.“What do you think of war so far? Are you going to grow tired of it?”“Not a chance!”
Ludwig declared with gusto, stopping for a cow which had wandered into the middle of the road, “I was born from warfare. Made for it. I love being a soldier, pitting my strength and skill against the enemy’s, pushing my body to its limits. Even better, I grow stronger with each victory, am able to provide my people with a better quality of life. I’m glad this war happened — it’s about time I got the chance to conquer and expand, to rise as a great power. In time everyone will fear and respect me. Except my allies, of course.”
Catching himself, he quickly added, “They’ll only respect me.”What the hell is this?!
The bovine roadblock wasn’t moving: it was just standing there with a stupid expression on its face.
Annoyed, Ludwig honked the horn a few times. “GET OUT OF THE WAY, you stupid chunk of beef! ”
That did the trick. A spark of life appeared in the cow’s big, dark eyes, and it hustled off the road. Ludwig stomped down a little too hard on the accelerator, sending the car forward in a sudden lurch of speed, which he chose to treat as normal.
The banquet hall where the event was to be hosted was still a ways off — they were still in the outskirts of Berlin where, apparently, a few families still grazed livestock — but Ludwig couldn’t help but to feel that time was of the essence if he was going to share his story before they arrived, a story only for nations’ ears.“Amelie, there’s something I have to tell you.”
he said calmly. Once he was sure he had her undivided attention, he continued, “On one of my solo scouting missions I came across an old, abandoned castle. It was a cool, clear night, and I saw a few dark figures running away from it. Curious, I went inside to investigate. Found a lot of still-lit candles and signs of recent use. Then, as I snuck into a wide open room, someone on one of the upper floors shot me in the shoulder.”
He paused just long enough to take a quick breath, mentally noting that the scenery they were passing was quite charming and pretty.“Naturally I hunted this person down, determined to kill him if he didn’t surrender. He was more challenging than most Belgians, I have to admit. He kept me in a game of cat-and-mouse for a while, and I didn’t see him at all, then…then one of my bullets hit him and I heard him cry out. But the voice wasn’t a man’s voice, it was a woman’s.”
Here his voice took on a darkly gleeful, more sinister quality. “I asked myself, what woman would be in this castle, armed with a rifle and fighting like a man? There are no women in the Belgian army. I had my suspicions, so I called out to her — in Shaykomay. Not only did she understand me perfectly, she answered back in the same language. It was Belgium herself.”
He stopped for a beat, let the tension mount. “Can you guess what happened next?”
A/N: There you go! Again, I am so sorry for the delay. First posts always take me a bit longer than most, and you gave me plenty to work with. ;)
On the whole, WWI Germany is a lot cockier, more immature, and a little more optimistic than his WWII self, in varying degrees depending on the stage of the war ( for example, he loses most of his optimism in the last year and a half or so of the war and is as pessimistic as WWII Germany when he finally loses it ). That being said he was never a true optimist, but he’ll probably seem like one in this thread because recent events have put him in an unusually good mood. For that same reason he’s also a bit chattier than you usually see him here. XD I doubt Amelie’s seen him act quite like this before, though she’d be used to his love for sparring/combat and hot-headed nature.
By contrast, WWII Germany is calmer, more mature, and more level-headed. He’s still conquest-happy and he can still be an asshat sometimes, but he’s seen more and experienced more, and he has a less shining view of himself ( though he still has a superiority complex, even in present-day ).
The pain and humiliation of losing WWI and the subsequent illness and struggling he had to go through until the Nazi party came to power was the hard knock that forced him to grow up.
Also, sorry I didn’t help you into the car — Lud’s attention to fine detail unfortunately doesn’t extend to ladies and proper social etiquette concerning them. ^^; He doesn’t always fail this hard at it, but it’s something he’ll struggle with for centuries to come.
I took some small liberties with his dress uniform, because I couldn’t find any good references for WWI-era German/Prussia dress uniforms ( only field uniforms ). And macassar oil was commonly used for hair gel at this time, since this was before the invention of hair gel as we know it today ( the first batch of Brylcreem wouldn’t come into existence for another 14 years ).