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Whatever he was feeling, it wasn’t fear. It wasn’t hollow or disorienting enough to be fear. The emotion was searing, screeching in his ears, and he thought that maybe it was anger. If it was, then it was unlike any anger he’d ever felt. It didn’t focus on any one person or circumstance; it just raged inside him, spiking his adrenalin and making him want to fight.

But he didn’t.

He kept walking, slow measured steps that matched those of his brother as they neared the cell.

Prussia didn’t understand why it had to be a cell. He would have appreciated a last look at the sky he hadn’t seen in months. But they’re afraid… he thought bitterly. They’re afraid of what might happen if my people see me, even if it’s only to watch me die.

He wanted to look at his brother, wanted to see his expression, but his eyes stayed locked on the smooth grey floor beneath him. They’d said their goodbyes the night before, where the Allies couldn’t garner the satisfaction. There was nothing left to say, and anything the brothers saw in each other’s faces would only serve as a catalyst for Germany’s… pain? Prussia wasn’t sure if that was the word, but the younger nation was grieving. The Allies couldn’t even let that small mercy alone; they tainted the grief with words of redemption and never again, made Germany truly believe that he was doing the right thing by executing his brother.

Prussia swallowed with some difficulty, knowing he’d never get the chance to sink his fingers in their shit-filled throats and rip the way he wanted to. He could only hope that somewhere down the line they’d get theirs and that he’d be in a place where he could watch.

Their steps came to an echoing stop outside of the thick, metal door. Germany turned the knob, pushed, and it opened with an almost eerie silence. He stepped aside to allow Prussia in first, but didn’t meet his eyes. The elder brother couldn’t help but notice how clean and proper the other nation’s uniform was, in complete harmony with the lifeless expression on his face. He wondered if Germany had a drawer full of faces that he put on just like the rest of his clothes.

Head held high with pride not even a death march could suppress, Prussia stepped over the threshold.

They were all there. Four bastards and one traitorous son of a bitch that he used to call a friend. His eyes met France’s for two beats that held enough memories for a lifetime before they traveled to the other Allies.

Prussia flashed a gallows smile, and even the ones that didn’t really move seemed to flinch. “Well…” His voice was hoarse but still bore his swagger. “Glad to see you all made it. Would have been a shame not to see any of your goddamned hypocritical faces one last time.”

They didn’t respond, simply stared. No, it wasn’t really even a stare… They just looked at him as though not knowing what they expected to see but still not liking what they saw. There was contempt in their eyes; of that much he was sure. But there was recognition too, and Prussia wondered how many memories they were burying out of disgust.

Because one misguided push, one misguided suggestion, had taken root in his brother and turned into hell. That one escaped thought was enough to undo the history he shared with all of them. Even in the worst of times, nations bore something like camaraderie that resonated in their cores. Even while pressing a sword into each other’s gut, they still felt that flicker of familiarity.

That flicker was in their faces. They just didn’t care, and in the second he realized it, Prussia knew beyond any hope of redemption that he would die.

There was a bench in the center of the room, backless, wooden, black leather stretched over its top. Above it hung the noose. Waiting. The thin wire glinted in the sparse light and would spin out of sight before glinting again.

Prussia froze, his body stiffened.

But only for a moment.

A moment in which every word he had ever spoken or heard, every kiss he had ever tasted, every ounce of blood he’d ever spilled, and every hand he’d ever taken were caught and compressed inside his mind, crystallizing behind his eyes. He clung to them with the last piece of him that still fought back.

Then he took a step forward.

He wouldn’t let anyone lead him there.

Another step forward.

He wouldn’t allow himself to falter.

A third step.

He was not a common criminal.

A fourth.

He was a nation.

Fifth.

He was Prussia.

Up…

He looked at them all, searched their faces. Without glancing away, he reached for the noose and brought it over his own head. It was… cold. Thinner than he’d thought it would be. He leaned his head to the side to smirk at them, and it tightened.

“You know I’m not one for speeches, so I’ll keep it short.” The words left his mouth of their own volition. He couldn’t possibly be speaking right now; his breath felt too heavy, and his chest was so tight, and something was wrong with his eyes.

“To Germany, I said this already, but in case you’ve managed to forget it on the walk down here –which you probably have– I don’t blame you.”

His brother was behind him, so he couldn’t see his face. Dimly, he thought that would’ve been better… for Ludwig to be the last thing he saw before he died. There was nothing he could do about it now though; he was too proud to ask.

“As for everyone else in the room… well…” Prussia’s eyes closed briefly, and those memories that he’d collected before twined through him, warm and real.

With a final laugh that struck a single jarring note, he opened his eyes and sneered. “Fuck you, I don't care.”

Germany knew his cue. He kicked the bench out from under Prussia’s feet, and then circled around the body as it fell and caught on nothing.

Their eyes met, the younger brother watching the elder jerk against the pressure. His hands were not tied, but he didn’t raise them. They remained clenched and controlled at his side.

Then the hands went slack, and Prussia hung.