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|Darker Reflections > Threads On Hold > Waidmanns Heil|
|Posted by: Brandenburg Jan 10 2013, 01:22 PM|
| Berlin - August 28th, 1914
It was a warm summer night, partially cloudy, but the air was buzzing with energy. A large banquet hall had been rented for a large social event to reward some soldiers that had returned from the victory in Belgium. Decorated officials from both Prussian and German regiments were present, as well as some visiting Austrians and Hungarians. The Great War had just broken out, Germany's victories had been quick and decisive, and the general mood was overall optimistic. It wasn't all good, but one ex-nation wasn't going to let expected casualties and consequences ruin her evening.
Amelie had been delighted to receive the invitation. It would prove a good distraction from her current loneliness at home. As well as from her worry from rumors she was hearing from the war front. She'd been so excited, it had taken her a whole week to pick out her outfit, much to the amusement and irritation of the house maids. Dress, hat, shoes, shawl and jewelry had all been meticulously chosen for this evening, even right down to stockings and undergarments. One thing that greatly delighted Amelie with the turn of the century, was that corsets were now a thing of the past and she'd never have to wear one of those textile prisons again.
She'd been even more delighted for Ludwig's return, greeting the young nation warmly at the door and all the practised eased of wife used to the men of her house going off to war. She fussed over him, acted like things were normal and casually inquired about his battles and further plans for the war. She pried, but didn't push and was quite the attentive ear if Ludwig decided to open up or divulge anything at all. Certain things were heavy on her mind, yet Amelie showed no signs of being bothered by the current world events.
When it came time for the party, she dressed in a glittering white and black evening gown. She'd had her long hair styled upwards into a tight, but sweeping bun. A few choice locks at her temples had been waxed into playful curls against the side of her face. Her wide brimmed hat was black as well, decorated with a simple cameo and a few white feathers. Completing her ensemble was a simple white lace shawl and some black tango shoes. The dress wasn't the current fashion, but it was quite close and it was the most glitzy garment in her wardrobe. A shame her husband couldn't be present though. Gilbert would have quite approved of her colour palette, even if she'd broken it with a red ruby hanging from her neck and ruby earrings. She had to wear some red other than the shade on her lips, after all.
As for Ludwig, Amelie had made certain to give him a once over. Her eye was as critical as the pickiest general and made sure everything on his person was perfectly in place. She even licked her thumb and scrubbed at an imaginary smudge on the blond's cheek, smiling teasingly the whole time.
“I heard,” she spoke playfully, twining one arm with Ludwig's as they walked out of the house. “That you were going to be awarded something tonight. What brave feat of valour could it be form?” she asked, giving the other the keys to the vehicle and then waiting to be helped inside.
“This is nice,” she said, once they were on their way. “A shame Gilbert couldn't attend. Or lucky for you, I suppose,” Amelie mused, smirking a little. “It'll save you from his insane boasts and toasts. And the wild stories,” she finished, looking out the passenger side of the vehicle at the passing scenery. She looked somber for a moment, but was smiling when she turned to look at Ludwig again.
“What do you think of war so far? Are you going to grow tired of it?”
(Heh, I got sidetracked while trying to figure out how to set this up.
Brandy's dress if you're curious. It's quite glamorous. http://omgthatdress.tumblr.com/post/36161264571/dress-jean-philippe-worth-1912-nasjonalmuseet
I couldn't figure out at what time, so hopefully after the occupation of Brussels works for you? I forget if it's also after or during Tannenberg too, which is my explanation for Prussia's absence.
Let me know if you want me to add some more~)
|Posted by: Germany Jan 24 2013, 10:02 AM|
| 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 ).
|Posted by: Brandenburg Feb 6 2013, 04:41 AM|
| Letting the lack of manners slide for now, Amelie was quite content with the ride for now. It was actually quite nice for Ludwig to be so chatty. He'd always been so quiet as young boy, nose always buried in books as if the secrets of the world lay in them. Well, there were probably some secrets in the collection of books she and Gilbert had kept over the ages. Not to mention the many journals albino filled like clockwork. It made Amelie wonder if the green nation beside her had ever read any of them. She was pulled out of her train of thoughts though by the car stopping.
Amused by the bovine, she'd twisted in her seat to see if any more of the animals were nearby. Disappointed at not seeing a heard stampeding their way, she settled back down in her seat to listen to her companion for the evening. It really was different to see Ludwig so animated. It made Amelie miss her husband for a moment, the words reminding her of Gilbert.
“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. They’ll only respect me.”
“Sometimes it's good to have your allies fear you though,” Amelie butted in subtly. “A small dose of it makes them think long and hard about double crossing you and selling you out to the enemy. I used to make emperors tremble back in my day,” she couldn't help adding, smiling.
Quite comfortable in her seat, she looked back at the cow. It didn't look like they would make it on time, if the animal wanted to stay planted before them. Oh well, if you can't be early or on time, being fashionably late wasn't so bad either. Settling in for the wait, the female ex-nation wasn't prepared for Ludwig's outburst. Likely just as startled as the cow was into moving, Amelie had to glance over at her companion with curious surprise.
That had been completely unexpected. Although... war did change people. Perhaps Ludwig had been more marked by battle than he'd let on, even if the war was going well so far. It may be exciting, but these were still all new experiences for the boy she'd once taken care to try and mold into a proper gentleman. She'd have to have Gilbert have a talk with him, just to make sure. As much as she wanted to pry, this wasn't quite the time and she was certain Ludwig wouldn't open up to her about such matters. War was a subject for men and she, as a woman, would of course never be able to understand such things. Sniffing at the thought of the many men who'd told her this in her lifetime, Amelie contained an eye roll and instead turned her attention back Ludwig. He was speaking again, obviously recovered from whatever ire had overcome him earlier.
“Amelie, there’s something I have to tell you.”
“Oh?” she'd replied, smoothing the cloth of her dress over her lap. “Do tell,” she prompted, then sat and listened. Her expression was one of interest, making attentive hums here and there. That was, until Ludwig's tone grew a bit darker. Gazing the blond curiously, Amelie's expression became a bit calculating, as if trying to evaluate this behaviour and trying to guess what she was about to be told next, to be able to school her reactions properly.
“Can you guess what happened next?”
What a loaded question that was. At this point, any warmth in Amelie's reception was gone, an icy stare fixed on young nation. She could guess, yes. She could guess many outcomes. Many of which she thought she and Gilbert had made clear during Ludwig's many ethic lessons, were wrong and not befitting of a respectable and civilized man.
“You treated her with the respect due her stature, I hope,” she finally spoke, voice clipped and laced with warning that Ludwig best choose his next words wisely. “I didn't teach you to behave barbaric in the presence of a lady. I know things tend to happen in the heat of battle, but I expect you can still master your baser instincts under such circumstances. If not, I'm greatly disappointed with you, Ludwig,” she finished, her tone even and cool. Even as just a state now, the ex-nation could still draw up her authoritative and austere manners like a old and well worn coat.
Amelie certainly hoped Ludwig hadn't acted in any disgraceful behaviours. Her accusations were subtle, but she couldn't be certain. Her gaze was coldly impassive as she awaited Ludwig's response, like a mother suspecting her child had done wrong and wanted a confession with a valid explanation.
|Posted by: Germany Mar 26 2013, 08:48 PM|
| Germany honestly couldn’t remember a time when he’d seen Amelie’s mood shift so drastically so suddenly. Moments ago she’d been listening to his tale with keen interest, cheerful and relaxed. Then he’d reached the most exciting part and asked her if she could guess what had happened next, and it was as if a freezing wind had blown into their car and stolen all the softness and warmth away from her. The expression with which she fixed him now was only a shade or two below murderous.
Damn, wasn’t expecting that reaction. Taken aback, Ludwig turned his eyes back to the road and tried to figure out what he had said to upset his mother-hen auntie so much.
She knew about his victory over Belgium, had known since before he’d even arrived to pick her up. If she was upset about it then why hadn’t she said so earlier? Why had she acted so proud of and happy with him? It didn’t make any sense. What had happened next in his little personal story was obvious and should not have surprised or upset her.
“You treated her with the respect due her stature, I hope,” Amelie’s voice was as cold as her expression.
What the hell? Ludwig was about to ask Amelie how she figured he should treat an armed enemy who was both extremely willing and extremely able to send him back to his boss when her next words blasted all confusion out of the water.
“I didn't teach you to behave barbaric in the presence of a lady. I know things tend to happen in the heat of battle, but I expect you can still master your baser instincts under such circumstances. If not, I'm greatly disappointed with you, Ludwig.”
How does she know?! Though his mouth remained more or less settled in its usual neutral frown, the shock he felt at the semi-accusation registered in and around his eyes; his brows raised slightly.
Amelie hadn’t been present at that battle; it had been just him and Belgium, all alone together in a dilapidated old castle. He hadn’t told a single soul about how dangerously close he had come to raping the other country once he had beaten her. That had been a low point for him, and he was to this moment ashamed of himself for even considering it, for wanting and anticipating it with such sweet, dark pleasure when he knew in his heart it was wrong and against everything a white knight stood for. In the end he hadn’t gone through with it, and that was what mattered, but how would Amelie…
She knew what he had almost done. After beating the fight out of her he had bound the spirited blonde fighter with rope, knocked her out, and carried her away to show off to Prussia. He had made no apology for his actions, nor had he bothered trying to get her to keep any part of their confrontation secret. At the time he hadn’t cared that she might blab, hadn’t given the matter any thought beyond ‘I’ll deal with the backlash if and when it happens’.
Well, now it was happening.
“Amelie,” Ludwig said slowly, his voice markedly less cheerful and excited, “Just because some people are calling it ‘The Rape of Belgium’ it doesn’t mean that I actually, you know, did that.” And even if I had, I sure as hell wouldn’t brag to you of all people about it, he added mentally. While he had, for a short period of time in the heat of the moment, been on the fence as to whether or not Prussia approved of rape under such circumstances ( an enemy one had fought and conquered fairly in the context of war ), he hadn’t for a second had to wonder about Amelie’s feelings on the matter.
“What happened next was that Belgium shot me in the shoulder, and the game of cat-and-mouse continued for half an hour longer. When I at last caught up with her she challenged me to a one-on-one duel without ‘big boy guns’, as she called them. I accepted, threw down my rifle, and lunged for her. She cheated and kept hers, but it didn’t do her any good because I easily overpowered her, even with a bullet in my shoulder. We fought. I won.” Though his tone was more mechanical than it had been prior to the point where he had asked his passenger to guess what had happened next, there was still a strong undercurrent of pride to it, and more than a dash of glee. “I don’t know what Belgium told you, but remember, she is my enemy — our enemy — and she will do everything she can to cause problems for me. No nation ever wants to be conquered and occupied. It will take a while for her to cool down and stop hating me.”
He didn’t know for sure that Amelie had heard anything incriminating from Belgium, or even if she had spoken to her at all. Now that he thought about it, if she had spoken to her it was weird that she would wait for him to bring the fight up on his own accord before angrily questioning him about it. Then again, the same logic applied to the scenario of her taking propaganda too literally.
It must have been something I said, he reasoned, Perhaps it was the way I said it.
Did his aunt/stepmother really think he was capable of rape?
If so he really needed to work on presenting a better image of himself. The immoral and bestial thoughts and urges which dwelled inside him and occasionally tortured him with temptation were deeply shameful and something he would prefer to keep forever locked and hidden away from everyone else in the world, the dirty little secrets which he alone knew.
Hoping his explanation had satisfied Amelie, and wanting to steer the topic back into safer waters, he nodded in the direction of a particularly scenic little pond they were passing. “Sometime tomorrow I’d like to go swimming there. Hopefully with a girl I’ll meet at the party tonight.” He flashed his passenger a small, hopeful smile.
A/N: You can have them arrive in your next post, or I'll make it happen in my next. Any way you want to go is fine by me!
|Posted by: Brandenburg May 6 2013, 09:50 PM|
| “Amelie... Just because some people are calling it ‘The Rape of Belgium’ it doesn’t mean that I actually, you know, did that.”
Scrutinizing the man beside her heavily at the answer, Amelie searched for any hints of a lie in those words. She sighed, unable to or simply accepting Ludwig's honesty. She didn't answer right away though, but was now back towards the mood she'd been in before her subtle accusations.
The more she listened, covertly watching the blond from the corner of her eye, the more Amelie was convinced of the prior statement to be true. She was smiling slightly at the end of the tale, glad and very much proud that her dear boy was a more than capable master of his beastly urges. She knew battle and intimate relations tended to go hand in hand, her smiling widening a bit more now. Gilbert had always been quite eager for intimacy when returning from campaigns in the past, wondering if this new war would bring out some of that particular hunger upon his return this time as well. She'd have to arrange something for Ludwig, if he happened to be home at the same time. Amelie knew the younger nation likely had heard all about the birds and bees, but it was one thing to know about that and quite another to witness your parental figures in the middle of it. Sometimes the old Margrave liked to think Ludwig was still rather quite innocent. Although from what she'd just heard now, that far from the truth. Maybe she'd try to find her little boy a nice companion for the evening, Amelie decided, trying to remember if any other officials she'd heard were attending were bringing any daughters with them.
“Sometime tomorrow I’d like to go swimming there. Hopefully with a girl I’ll meet at the party tonight.”
Speak of the devil... the smile Ludwig gave her was quite adorable and she returned it with a warm one of her own.
“That sounds like a grand idea,” she replied, watching as the neared the gathering spot for the awards ceremony. “And Belgium didn't tell me anything,” she added, her tone of voice cheerful and easy going again. “I just know those things happen. I've heard things, but I'm quite glad you didn't and won't participate in any of those distasteful behaviours. It's one thing to occupy an enemy, it's quite another to treat them worse than any other living thing you own.”
As they pulled up towards the front steps of the building, a valet opened the doors to the vehicle for them, helping Amelie out and onto the steps. Giving the man a tip and entrusting him with the security of her vehicle, she threaded her arm with Ludwig's and started mounting the steps.
“If you treat an enemy well while they're your captive, and they'll be less likely to seek revenge,” she continued, trying to impart some wisdom upon the other. “They may even be inclined to aid you in the future, once the sting of defeat fades away.”
Butlers were at the doors to welcome them in and announce their arrival to the guests already present. The reception hall was large and another set of doors were set further inside, opening up into the banquet hall. Rows and rows of tables laid with plates, silverware and glasses lined the room. It wasn't as opulently decorated as it could have been, but summer flowers rested in vases on the tables as well as along the walls. There was an empty stage with a podium sitting atop it at the very back of that room, where a couple people were busily setting up a microphone. Other than the workers, no other guests was in that room. Everyone was mingling in the foyer, and now in her element, Amelie led the way, greeting and being greeted, introducing Ludwig to people she knew and of course showering others with just as many compliments as she was receiving.
(Feel free to move onto the dinner. I'm eager to see how socially awkward Luddy is, kekekekeke)
|Posted by: Germany May 22 2013, 12:51 PM|
| Thankfully Amelie chose to believe him and decided not to pursue the matter further. The tense atmosphere in the car vanished as suddenly as it had come with her confirmation that she had not spoken to Belgium recently and had only ever suspected Ludwig of doing such a thing in the first place because his ‘Can you guess what happened next?’ cliffhanger had sounded too ominous given the context and the way in which he had said it.
“…I'm quite glad you didn't and won't participate in any of those distasteful behaviours. It's one thing to occupy an enemy, it's quite another to treat them worse than any other living thing you own.”
Ludwig silently agreed. The way he had treated Belgium immediately following his victory over her had not been one of his shining moments, and he rightfully deserved any flak he got concerning what he had almost done. Certain primitive urges could be quite powerful, yes, especially when paired with strong feelings of entitlement, an adrenalin rush, and being alone with an attractive enemy of the opposite sex, but like the humans they were modeled after nation spirits were also capable of telling right from wrong, and as such there was no excuse for them to knowingly indulge in morally repulsive behavior, especially when they were trying to be the “good guy”.
“If you treat an enemy well while they're your captive, and they'll be less likely to seek revenge,” Amelie continued, “They may even be inclined to aid you in the future, once the sting of defeat fades away.”
This was also true, though Germany still felt he’d had every right to slap Belgium, tie her up, and knock her out after she’d shot him in the shoulder and bitten off a sizeable chunk of his lower lip. The wounds had since healed completely with his lower lip regenerating the way a human’s never could, but immediately following the duel he’d had to make up a story to explain why he was missing part of his lip while the rest of his face remained unscathed, and that had been a bit of a challenge. In the end he’d settled on a half-truth, telling everyone who asked that the damage had been done by a particularly wild girlfriend who’d had way, way too much to drink one night. While it called his taste in girls into question it was better than admitting that he’d forced kisses on someone who hated him.
Was Amelie right? With fair treatment from here on out could Belgium develop into a willing ally someday, or would she hold a grudge forever? The last time he’d checked in on her she’d still been pretty pissed at him, which was understandable. There was no way for him to know everything that was in the feisty little French-speaking nation’s heart, of course, but if their last few interactions were anything to go by then it was going to take centuries for the “sting of defeat” to go away.
A shame. She was very pretty. And the way she had fought and defied him had been a huge turn-on.
Perhaps he should apologize to her, shower her with gifts and thoughtful gestures, do everything he could short of freeing her to get back on her good side. Perhaps then they could have some consensual fun together. More than likely it wouldn’t work, but it was worth a shot.
The rest of the trip passed comfortably enough. Her mind back at ease, Amelie had been more than happy to resume talking about the party, and by the time they’d fought their way through traffic to arrive at the front of the building where the event was to be held Ludwig’s thoughts were far from Belgium. Thankfully the people in charge of planning this little party/awards ceremony had remembered to include valet parking, and the teenaged nation was relieved that he wouldn’t have to spend what would likely be several minutes finding a suitable place to park.
Upon exiting the still-running vehicle Ludwig strode over to Amelie, and, accepting her arm in his, climbed the steps to the main entrance with the poise of a proper gentleman. They were heartily greeted and ushered inside by a pair of butlers, one of which loudly announced their arrival to all the guests who’d arrived ahead of them.
Ludwig’s mouth twitched with annoyance as the man got his surname wrong. Beilschmidt? What the hell? I know I reported my name-change to all the proper authorities. I hope they don’t mess up on my awards. They’d better not have. His surprise was going to lose some of its punch if they had.
The large reception hall was packed full of guests, and judging from looks of the adjacent banquet hall they wouldn’t have long to wait before dinner was served. A quick glance at his watch confirmed the young nation’s suspicions: forty-five minutes past nineteen-hundred. The event was scheduled to start in fifteen minutes. In the meantime he and Amelie were free to mingle with the other guests.
Looking around the room, Ludwig spotted several familiar faces interspersed amongst all the new ones, friends and comrades he’d fought alongside on the battlefield. Comfortable and in high spirits, they congregated in fluid clusters where they traded news and opinions, laughed, and talked about the war while a few energetic children weaved around them in an attempt to keep themselves amused with a game of tag.
Left to his own devices, Ludwig would have singled out the ones he knew and liked best for a bit of friendly conversation. He’d never been all that outgoing, but he wasn’t completely antisocial, either, and he was genuinely curious as to what his fellow soldiers were up to and who they supposed would get which award. He was also eager to swap war stories, though sadly he couldn’t share some of his personal favorites with humans.
Unfortunately, he was not left to his own devices; Amelie, bound and determined to introduce him to every person in the foyer, drug him around by the arm like her personal trophy from one guest to the next, dishing out and receiving compliments along the way.
Too many people!
His expression an awkward combination of frustration and discomfort, Germany tried his best to link the rapid-fire flurry of names with faces in his memory. But he barely had time to acknowledge one person before being greeted by another, and some of them spoke so quietly, and he just knew he was going to forget everyone’s names, and why were some of the girls giggling, and…and, ugh, why was his auntie doing this to him?! How did she even know so many people?!
“Amelie!” Enough was enough; he dug his feet into the floor and un-threaded his arm from the happy social-butterfly.
Heads turned. While the vast majority of the party’s guests continued to merrily chat up a storm, too focused on themselves and each other to take notice of the apparent teenaged boy who had reached the limit with his overly-enthusiastic auntie, Ludwig was uncomfortably aware that roughly half of the dozen or so people within a 3-meter radius of him and Amelie had stopped to stare at them, with the other half likely pretending not to notice.
Damn! I wasn’t that loud, was I?
The last thing he’d wanted to do was make a scene.
He’d better say something.
A faint blush darkened his cheeks as he made his mouth work. “It’s been a pleasure meeting all of your friends, and I’m really happy to be here tonight.” The smile that followed, while not overdone, was only slightly more forced than it looked. “But Fleischer over there is a close friend of mine, and I’d like to do some catching up with him.” He nodded his head towards the Gefreiter in question, a brown-haired man around twenty years of age who was sharing a few laughs with some other soldiers and a pair of women off near one of the corners farthest from the banquet hall.
Verdammt, I can’t just leave her without an invitation, that would be rude…
Hoping to God that this would at least make Amelie lose interest introducing him to everyone, he added “I’d like to introduce you, if you ehm, don’t mind.”
The people who had been staring at them lost interest and resumed their conversations as though they hadn’t been interrupted. One of the girls Amelie had just introduced him to, the raven-haired beauty with a foreign name ( Thamani, wasn’t it? ) in a stunning white dress winked at him, and he was instantly sorry he’d been so hasty in excusing himself for the next several minutes. Not that he knew what to say to her…
…but then, he had Amelie with him, didn’t he? Perhaps she could help.
It felt strange, winking back — winking was simply not in his character and something he normally never did — but it was the best way to let her know he’d noticed her interest, was interested in her in turn, without speaking back.
His face reddening a bit more as he turned away, he started towards Fleischer. “What do you know of that girl?” he asked the former nation at his side, switching to Shakomay to keep the conversation private.
Quite suddenly and unexpectedly, a deep baritone filled his ears. “Ah! My dear, you are simply beautiful! Gorgeous! Radiant! Indeed and truly, you are Germany’s fairest daughter!”
Ludwig’s brows arched up in surprise as an elegantly dressed, forty-something balding man with a bit of a beer gut cut across his path and made to kiss Amelie’s hand. He sounded — and looked — positively ecstatic to be in the latter’s presence.
Reassured now that he knew the man hadn’t been talking to him, Ludwig gave his parental figure a sly, mischievous look. “You know, Gilbert’s not going to like it when he hears about your new boyfriend.” He continued to speak in Shaykomay. Turning his eyes back to a still thoroughly-engaged Fleischer, he added with a small, indignant snort, “And just why would I have daughters? I know he doesn’t know what we are, but why would he picture me as an old man?”
A/N: I was going to move them straight on to dinner, but my muse just couldn't resist a big of awkwardness out of the gate. xD I guess this way they'll have something to talk about over dinner. I have some ideas for the pacing - I'll let you know via PM or chatbox tomorrow ( later today since I am up so late ).
By the way, to most humans Shakomay sounds something like the Greek language. Just a fun tidbit.
|Posted by: Brandenburg Jun 26 2013, 01:19 AM|
Startling in surprise the woman paused in the middle of introductions. She looked at Ludwig with subtle puzzlement, but the expression quickly turned to one of amusement, after getting a good look at the crowd around them. It made her fondly remember a time when as a boy, Ludwig would hide behind her skirts whenever she'd introduce him to new people. Still just as shy, she thought, but loud about it now, rather than skittish.
“It’s been a pleasure meeting all of your friends, and I’m really happy to be here tonight.”
A smile only Amelie could tell was forced was on Ludwig's face. He was getting better at wearing social faces, she determined, feeling some pride. Finally all those social etiquette lessons were paying off.
“But Fleischer over there is a close friend of mine, and I’d like to do some catching up with him... I’d like to introduce you, if you ehm, don’t mind.”
“I'd be delighted to,” answered Amelie with a wide smile. Finally, a glimpse into Ludwig's social circle. Giving some polite farewells and promises to catch up with whom she'd just been speaking to after dinner, the woman let herself be lead away. As shrewd the old Margrave was, she didn't miss the little exchange between the raven haired girl and Ludwig. A bit curious, she glanced at the other nation, awaiting a question or mention.
“What do you know of that girl?”
There it was. Of course, using Shakomay was a good way of keeping the conversation private. Subtly getting a good look at the girl in question again, Amelie tried to place her. “I believe that's the daughter of a diplomat. I think her name was Thamara?” the older woman mused, thinking deeply. “I believe both she and her father are from the Ottoman Empire, although I don't remember exactly which land,” she finally concluded. Looking around the gathered guests, she spotted an equally dark haired and bearded man in official dress.
“I believe that's the diplomat there,” Amelie pointed out to Ludwig, gesturing subtly in the man in question's direction.
“Ah! My dear, you are simply beautiful! Gorgeous! Radiant! Indeed and truly, you are Germany’s fairest daughter!”
Amelie's brows raised almost at the same time as Ludwig's, having only a moment's notice to paste a pleasant smile onto her features. She suffered her hand to be kissed and allowing a proper amount of time to elapse, firmly slipped her limb free from the boisterous intruder.
“Herr Schulze,” Amelie greeted, with just enough warmth to have newcomer beam widely. There was a subtle hint of frost in her tone as well, but it seemed to fly right over the other man's head.
“You know, Gilbert’s not going to like it when he hears about your new boyfriend.”
“Gilbert knows him and has nothing to worry about,” the woman answered back with a slight roll of her eyes, after exchanging a few pleasantries with Schulze. “Give me a moment to get rid of him,” she added quickly, smiling still at the balding man.
She sighed a little and Schulze picked up on it, inquiring about what seemed to dampen her spirits. Pretending that she didn't want to tell and was fine, Amelie waited for the other man to push his prying, before giving into his concern. Completely fibbing, she admitted to hearing certain rumours about her being spread by another gentleman, a certain Herr von Luft. Becoming indignant, Herr Schulze's face blemished in anger at Amelie's faked distress and promised to take care of the matter himself and that she shouldn't worry about her name being besmirched any longer. Someone had to take care of her while her husband was away at war, after all. With a bow, Schulze huffed away on his self appointed mission, muttering about disrespectful swine and almost making Amelie miss Ludwig's comment.
“You don't want to be a father?” she asked him, switching back to Shakomay and raising one eyebrow. She was looking absolutely pleased with herself, like cat that had caught a canary and was letting it marinate in cream. “Herr Schulze is a bit daft, and as for you being an old man, if you count your years, aren't you? Even if you look like you could be any one of their sons.”
A bell rung out suddenly, summoning the guests to the dining hall. “I suppose you'll have to introduce me to your friend Fleischer over dinner, hm? I'm sure I've taxed your sociability with all the persons I've carted you around to. Let's sit with him,” Amelie offered, as close to an apology for overloading the blond German with people, as he was going to get.
|Posted by: Germany Jul 21 2013, 08:03 AM|
| Thamara? Ludwig could have sworn Amelie had called the girl Thamani when she’d first introduced them, but then, it was an extremely foreign and unusual name, making it harder to pronounce and remember.
“I believe both she and her father are from the Ottoman Empire, although I don't remember exactly which land,”
The Ottoman Empire, huh? Ludwig studied the dark-haired diplomat that Amelie so helpfully and discreetly pointed out to him curiously, wondering a little at where exactly he and his daughter hailed from. Not that it mattered, really; Thamara was beautiful regardless, and so long as she and he had a language in common — and given both her father’s job and the fact that she was physically present here tonight odds were pretty good that she spoke German to at least some degree — there was nothing to stop them from getting to know each other better.
The prospect of approaching her before the event was through filled him with anxiety as much as excitement. His track-record with the opposite sex so far was neither stunning nor encouraging: all he had under his belt were a handful of relationships which had, for various reasons, all ended in the early stages before true bonding or much intimacy had occurred, and a failed rape attempt. Hyper-focused, serious, strong-willed, passionate, authoritarian, rigid, and possessing a strong introverted streak, he’d always found it difficult to make friendly small-talk with people he didn’t know very well, especially in cases where he and they had little or no common ground, but whenever he was around girls he liked, girls he was interested in, he always seemed to mess up more than usual and create an impression of himself he didn’t intend.
Without doubt the best strategy to avoid making the same mistake with Thamara was to swallow his pride and ask for Amelie’s advice right before making his move. He wasn’t particularly looking forward to that conversation, but her help and support would be well worth the discomfort of admitting that he flirted almost as well as a man with one arm and no thumbs fought.
After sending Herr Schulze off an amusing crusade to defend her dignity, a pleased Amelie turned her attention back to him. “You don't want to be a father?” She raised an eyebrow playfully.
Ludwig was about to reply that no, he didn’t, didn’t want that brand of commitment and responsibility right now when the Margrave continued.
“Herr Schulze is a bit daft, and as for you being an old man, if you count your years, aren't you? Even if you look like you could be any one of their sons.”
Ludwig frowned in half-feigned annoyance. “I’m forty-three; I’m not that old. Even if you count my proto years I’m still only forty-eight, which is technically middle-aged by human standards.” It was easy to see how his stepmother/aunt figure could have gotten confused, however, as nation spirits did age rather bizarrely and two aging at the same rate was the exception rather than the rule, and it seemed to him that, after their first two-hundred years or so, many of their kind stopped counting their years altogether. While the numbers still weren’t that significant to him yet, Ludwig liked to keep track of his true age. It was strange and depressing to think that, if he were human, his life would already be half over.
Their private conversation was again interrupted, this time by the sound of a bell rather than a boisterous admirer. The throngs of humans around them surged towards the dining hall, creating a small, noisy bottleneck in the threshold of the rooms.
“I suppose you'll have to introduce me to your friend Fleischer over dinner, hm? I'm sure I've taxed your sociability with all the persons I've carted you around to.”
I’m glad you recognize that, Ludwig thought wryly, though his frustration at having too many people to keep up with had passed for the time being. Really, Amelie had been doing him a favor; it was tough to meet girls and new friends without introductions and ice-breaking. Now more than just his fellow soldiers would have a face to associate with the name when his name was called.
“Let's sit with him.”
He nodded curtly. “I’ll inform him of our desire.”
Five minutes later found them seated at the very end of the long table closest to the left wall, not too far from the podium. Ludwig sat across from Fleischer and to the right of Amelie. To his immediate right was the end of the table, and diagonal from him was Fleischer’s girlfriend. Unfortunately Thamara’s father had decided that he and his daughter should sit towards the middle of the neighboring table, but at least they were on the left side of it: if he leaned back a little Ludwig could see his hopeful future date four seats down from him. For a brief moment he considered asking Amelie if she’d switch seats with him, but it would make the most sense for him to be across from Fleischer, and he was rather fond of all the free space to his right. It probably wouldn’t improve his communication with Thamara much anyway — so far all of her attention was on her father and the older lady and gentleman sitting across from them.
The clean dishes laid out neatly in front of them weren’t super-fancy, but they were nice: ivory-white plates, acid-clear wineglasses, large stone beer steins, and shining silverware elegantly placed on neatly-folded triangles of white cloth napkin. A limited variety of meats, cheeses, breads, fruits, vegetables, and the most popular German dishes consisting of a mix of two or more of the aforementioned ingredients rested on platters and plates and in bowls and pots that ran down the length of the middle of the wide table. Also present were large, unopened bottles of red wine, beer, soda, and apple-cider along with a single pitcher of ice-water for the hardest to please. Salt, pepper, and butter were available in abundance. The heavy, pleasant smell of the food drowned out the fragrance of the decorative summer bouquets.
Wow. All this in only fifteen minutes, and not a drop spilled on the tablecloth. A rush of pride for his kinsmen rushed through Germany: there definitely had not been any food or drink laid out on the table when he had first arrived and glanced into the room. His and Prussia’s people were fast and professional.
As perhaps could be expected in such an event, no one was dishing up just yet: everyone was waiting for the official go-ahead. Ludwig introduced his friend and fellow soldier to Amelie and in turn Fleischer introduced them both to his girlfriend, a blonde Swiss teenager by the name of Heidi Mizkitch who was supposedly 18 years old but looked about 15. They conversed over the next several minutes — mostly sharing little tidbits about themselves, their families, what they’d been up to lately, and the war — before being interrupted by a booming male voice telling them to go ahead and help themselves to the feast: the awards ceremony would start in fifteen minutes and last for about an hour, with entertainment ensuing thereafter. Also, they were to save room for dessert! It was going to be a lively night!
Germany didn’t need to be told twice; he hadn’t eaten at all since noon, and that had only been a light snack. At once he stood and served himself a generous portion of the Schnitzels that were within arm’s length of him before moving on to the mashed potatoes, moving in a clockwise direction along with the other diners. When he at last sat down again his plate was almost overflowing, mostly with Schnitzels, mashed potatoes, Wurst, and the truckload of sauerkraut that rendered the latter two almost invisible. His stein was full to the brim with beer.
Food: secured. Time to eat.
Taking up his utensils, the excited young country began eagerly wolfing down the sauerkraut mountain.
Heheh, true to his canon self, Ludwig’s tastes are so stereotypical. Also, he eats his Wurst the way I eat my veggie-sausages, BURIED under a metric ton of sauerkraut! ( Must be my German blood! XD ) He eats very fast too, hence the "wolfing" I describe. As a member of the military, he'd been used to eating meals very quickly as that's generally one of the first things you learn to do in most militaries, since they want soldiers to be as time-efficient as possible. In later years and in times of peace especially Luddy slows the pace, but speaking as an ex-military member myself I know that even only a few weeks of eating this way can cause you to do it automatically without thinking even when you have the time to enjoy your food more.
I can start the awards ceremony in my next post, or, if you’d rather, you can start it in your reply to this one. Totally up to you — I’ll roll with whatever you give me.
|Posted by: Brandenburg Sep 7 2013, 05:06 PM|
| Following elegantly after Ludwig, the female nation was still sharing a few pleasantries along the way with the crowd that flowed along with them. She was especially enchanted to make acquaintances with Fleischer and his lady, once they were seated. Eager to learn more about Ludwig's soldier life, Amelie asked a few polite questions of the mortal man. How they had met, if they had other comrades they kept company with, how their platoon fared in general and if there were any particular stories Fleischer felt comfortable sharing.
“Ludwig doesn't write home much, or when he does, he doesn't tell me anything about which front line he's on,” Amelie said, feigning injury and woe a bit exaggeratedly. “It's worrisome, you know,” she added, fetching agreement from Fleischer's lady friend. There was nothing worse than sitting at home and waiting everyday, wondering if you'd get that damned telegram or another letter.
Not that that was something Amelie had to worry overly about. If Gilbert or Ludwig happened to be killed in action, she knew fully well they'd be fine. Come to think of it, she wondered if the military would even bother with sending her telegrams, if either of them happened to die on the field of battle. She'd have to make it a point for them to come home if it happened then, at least until they were fully recovered from their temporary deaths. Servants were poor company and although she enjoyed socializing with the wives of other soldiers and the neighbours, she found things were getting quite dull. It just didn't have the same intrigue as weaving conspiracies at court. She'd slowly but firmly had gotten sidelined these past decades and completely barred from affairs of state and of the empire. It irked her to be swept aside so, when she was fully capable of manipulating most aspects of diplomacy to her favour.
The war may be going well now. Amelie knew quite well that there was the possibility of it turning sour. One had to plan for any plausible circumstances and one thing she'd been able to pride herself on, back when the name Brandenburg made Europe quiver in their shoes, was to turn any losses into a favourable gain. Of course, the trick was to let her leaders and later kings come to these ideas themselves. Back then, it was simple to whisper in the right ear or send letters to the proper party. Even Gilbert had listened to her council during his days as Empire.
Oh well, it wouldn't deter her from trying to meddle after the awards ceremony. Amelie knew, or had a good idea of who would go back and talk to head of state. She'd just have to make sure she had the right ear to speak to, or at least one sober enough to pass along the ideas. Drink was being imbibed more than food was being consumed, so that may prove a bit challenging.
Coming out of her musings and observing Ludwig eating, Amelie had a mind to tell him to slow down. Noticing that Fleischer was eating in the same fashion though, the woman decided not to say a thing. She simply turned her attention to Heidi, and nudged her head towards the men with an amused smile.
“They must tell them everything is a race, when they go through training,” she joked lightly, eating at a much daintier pace. Amelie hadn't filled her plate to brimming either, having selected a couple of items to start with and should her appetite not be filled, she would help herself to a second round of viands.
When the food at most tables had diminished quite a bit, dinner platters were slowly being switched over to dessert. Cakes, cookies and puddings were brought out. Pots of tea and coffee were traded for empty jugs of wine and ale. Once all of the switch overs were done, an official took to the podium again, announcing that the award ceremony would be beginning.
Sipping on a cup of tea, Amelie turned her attention to the stage. She clapped politely as names were called up and soldiers awarded for their bravery and service. When roll call for surnames skipped to ones beginning with D, Amelie looked at Ludwig in puzzlement. Then her brow creased a bit.
“A bit unorganized, if they've skipped you,” she said, wondering where things could have gone wrong. “Unless they changed their minds, but why would it be done on such short notice? That seems unfair,” she continued.
|Posted by: Germany Oct 7 2013, 03:03 PM|
| Whoever had prepared the food for this event was a culinary legend: it was all really, really good, and Ludwig couldn’t get enough of it. He shoveled heap after heap into his mouth; in no time at all he had cleaned his plate and gone for seconds.
He had already made short work of the food piles on his second plate and was about to procure a third serving of Wurst when he remembered dessert. As delicious as Wurst was, no way was he going to miss out on his favorite sweets: Rumkugeln *, Donauwellen *, Windbeutel *, ...so heavenly! His mouth watered just thinking about them. He finished off the beer in his stein while he waited, listening to Amelie, Fleischer, and Heidi converse, adding a word here or a sentence there and occasionally throwing a glance over his shoulder to Thamara.
Dessert time! Empty and depleted dinner dishes were traded for plates and bowls containing cakes, puddings, cookies, fudge, cream puffs, and other tasty treats; tea and coffee were added as drink options. The servers also gathered up all the guests’ dirty plates, bowls, cups, glasses, and silverware as needed, replacing them with clean ones. Ludwig quickly spied his three major weaknesses and loaded them onto his plate along with rum-soaked raisins and a big spoonful of chocolate pudding.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! The award ceremony will now begin!”
Mouth full with a Windbeutel, Ludwig turned his head towards the podium and stage and joined his compatriots in a hearty clap as a second official set an open, medium-sized box at the side of the podium.
“Wooo, can’t wait!” Fleischer was nearly as excited as Ludwig.
After a very short introductory speech on how the soon-to-be-named men had all gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to neighbor and country and had played instrumental roles in the conquest of Belgium, the first surnames were called: Adler, Baumhauer, Beringer, Breisacher, Dieter….
One by one the soldiers approached the podium, and the assisting official who had brought out the box reached into it and withdrew the medal(s) they had earned and a fancy certificate of special recognition. One by one each man in turn had the specific reasons why he had been given his awards announced loudly and proudly by the orator, who shook his hand. After the handshake the triumphant men returned to their seats amidst lively applause.
“A bit unorganized, if they've skipped you,”
Predictably, Amelie had noticed that Beilschmidt had not been called, nor was it going to be now that they were already past the Bs, not unless a mistake had been made. But no mistake had been made; Ludwig felt a swell of relief. They hadn’t forgotten to issue his award in his new name after all.
….Eichel, Fabel, Falkenrath, Feldt…now it was Fleischer’s turn. The young man hurried to the podium, and when the orator announced that he was receiving a promotion in rank along with his Iron Cross Second Class for literally risking his life to save the lives of two wounded comrades, single-handedly capturing three prisoners of war, and displaying “that rare calmness and clarity of mind on the battlefield present in only the best soldiers” he beamed head to toe.
“Unless they changed their minds, but why would it be done on such short notice?” Amelie continued after the clapping had died down and Fleischer had returned to their table, “That seems unfair.”
“I’m sure they haven’t forgotten me, Amelie,” Ludwig said, casting a quick congratulatory nod to Fleischer, who was smiling in Heidi’s embrace, medal around his neck and certificate out in front of him on the table, “I did make a pretty big contribution.” Dialing his voice down to a half-whisper, he added in Shaykomay, “They don’t even know how big.”
There it was! Ludwig got up and walked unhurriedly to the side of the podium, shoulders and back straight, head held high, every step overflowing with pride. To his surprise, when he reached the orator the awarding official reached into the box and withdrew not one, but two medals, both shiny black iron crosses with a ‘W’ engraved in the center, a crown over the top of it, and ‘1914’ below. They were trimmed in silver and gold and looked identical with the exception that one was attached to a black ribbon bearing thin white stripes — Prussia’s colors.
Ludwig had been expecting as much, but actually seeing the medals, his very first war decorations, sent a swell of warmth through him; he couldn’t wait to get them in his hands, to hold them and run his fingers over the smooth metal, to wear them.
The orator cleared his throat, then spoke. “Many men have fought bravely and fiercely in this war, but perhaps none as bravely or fiercely as Schütze Ludwig Herrmann, who never missed an opportunity to attack the enemy and seize control of all that was his even when he was grossly outnumbered and outmatched. This young man standing here before us tonight…” The orator nodded to Ludwig, whose cheeks were darkening with the beginnings of a blush. “…is credited with no fewer than fifty-five enemy deaths and ninety-eight captures, many of which he achieved single-handedly. And so, for achieving the impossible, for never running away from a fight and putting service and country first, Schütze Herrmann is herby awarded the Iron Cross Second Class and the Iron Cross First Class and promoted to the rank of Gefreiter. May he continue to exemplify everything that is great about the German Army!”
The banquet hall exploded into cheers and applause, the likes of which hadn’t quite been matched in volume or passion for any of the previous awardees.
“Well done my friend!” Fleischer called out, “If anyone deserves it it’s you!”
This…this is AWESOME! Though Ludwig usually avoided use, even mentally, of Gilbert’s favorite adjective — no grown man should be using it, really — there really was no better way to describe the truly wonderful feeling coursing through him right then, warming his body and energizing his soul. Though he had only conquered Belgium, he felt he had already conquered the world — surely no other nation on the planet stood a chance against him and Prussia!
A song in his heart and a smile on his slightly-reddened face, he took his iron crosses from the hands holding them out to him, along with the certificates that went with them and a certificate marking his rise in rank. His eyes caught Thamara’s on the way back to his seat, and his smile broadened a bit. She looked mightily impressed.
“I’ll bet you can’t wait to tell your brother about this!” Fleischer exclaimed excitedly as he sat back down, grinning ear to ear. He nodded to Amelie “Herrmann speaks constantly of his brother. A shame he couldn’t be here tonight — I would love to meet him.”
Windbeutel = cream puffs
Rumkugeln = rum balls
Donauwellen = Danube Waves Cake
The first letter of each is capitalized following the German form of capitalizing all nouns.
The Iron Cross First and Second Class were given without regard to rank, and sometimes awarded simultaneously.
Also, for reference’s sake, here’s a hand-drawn visual on where I envision everything and everyone:
|Posted by: Brandenburg Nov 17 2013, 04:05 PM|
Surprised at seeing Ludwig stand up when that surname had been called out, Amelie watched him go up to the podium with a puzzled look on her face. Had the younger nation taken on another name for the war? If that was the case, it was quite a smart endeavour. No one would question it when Ludwig Herrmann happened to 'die' later, once the war was over. It was fitting surname for the fake identity.
The brunette felt so proud that Ludwig had learned the finer points of subterfuge and deceit. All of her lessons had paid off. Thinking more about it, it was quite smart as well to keep the relationship between Gilbert and him secret. Who knew what could what happen. At least now the enemy, except for the other nations who knew, wouldn't be able to make the connection between the two men in her life. Changing one's surname was a smart move, indeed.
Amelie applauded politely after the speech given to explain Ludwig's first decorations, smiling and looking quite pleased with the whole event. Much like a cat who'd just watched her kitten accomplish its first successful hunt. All the grooming and teaching had turned her little boy into a successfully independent man. If only Gilbert were here... Amelie made a slight face afterwards though, thinking about how much rowdier things would be if her husband were here. She could just imagine all the whooping the albino could be causing, but wasn't happening for the lack of his presence. Perhaps it would be better this way. She'd have to write to him in the morning with the news, although she was certain he had likely already heard about his younger brother's exploits already.
Well, she'd just have to do the embarrassing for Gilbert. Especially now that Amelie noticed Thamarra was watching.
Once Ludwig had taken back his seat, Amelie congratulated him with a hug, a kiss on each cheek and just for good measure and because she knew it was something Gilbert would do, ruffled the blond's hair into a messy mop.
“Herrmann speaks constantly of his brother. A shame he couldn’t be here tonight — I would love to meet him.”
“Oh, you're not missing much,” the wife replied, smiling. “He is quite hard to forget once you've met him though. Gilbert likes to make lasting first impressions,” she added with some amusement, digging into her handbag.
Knowing about Ludwig's meticulousness, she'd come prepared with a small comb. This she subtly passed to the young nation, a satisfied smirk on her face.
“It's smart changing your name for the war,” she told him in Shaykomay. “It must make it harder for enemy spies to know who you actually are. We'll have to take pictures when we get home,” Amelie continued, gesturing to the medals.
“I wouldn't have minded if you'd used my name though, to cover up your identity,” she added teasingly and picked up her tea cup to have a sip.