Germany was startled out of sleep by the shrill noise of his telephone. His Official Telephone line, the one that was installed in his office, the official telephone line that was reserved for emergencies.
It was ringing.
In the middle of the night.
For a wild second, he thought, ‘ this is it, Russia and America decided to bomb each other, we’re all going to die, I’m never going to see Prussia ever again, oh well’ . The phone kept ringing. Ludwig swallowed thickly, cleared his throat before he picked up. Straightened his back and struggled to keep trepidation out of his body.
“Beilschmidt speaking,” he answered, fully expecting to hear one of his politicians with a panicked voice announcing that nuclear war had just started while Ludwig was in his pajamas.
“Ah, mon chouchou, why must you yell into the telephone like that? A simple hello would have sufficed.” The voice on the other side of the line was teasing, warm and decidedly feminine. Definitely not a threat or a bearer of bad news in the traditional sense.
He relaxed, heart started beating again and relief flooded his body.
“France? Why are you calling me on the official telephone line?”
“Oh, that’s just because I was unable to find your personal number. Do you have a personal number? I wanted to call you and then I realized this is the only number I have.” She was talking too fast, and Germany – now that the initial panic of looming nuclear threat passed – felt himself getting slightly irritated. “You know, if we’re going to be married – you need a personal line and you need to share it with me, I can’t always call the official line!”
“Why are you calling at all , France?”
There was a pause on the other end of the line, and Germany sat heavily on his office chair. France’s breathing was all that he could hear on the other side.
“I suppose I wanted to talk to you, ” she answered, and her voice sounded strange – he couldn’t really place what about it was off, but he found he couldn’t imagine how her face would look while saying that.
“It’s three AM, France.”
“I wasn’t sleeping.”
“I was. ”
“Yes, I was expecting you would be, but….”
“But what? What could be so important that you felt like you needed to call me at three in the morning to talk to me, France? We’re going to see each other in less than a week. You’re part of the delegation, we’re picking you up from the airport.”
Germany already had their schedule prepared for the official September visit. France, her president and their staff were to arrive on Tuesday at Bonn airport, and Germany would be there with Adenauer to greet them. They’d have quite a busy couple of days together, during which they would lay the foundation of their collaboration, set up protocols for the future of Franco-German alliance and discuss their marriage. Everything was set up and De Gaulle and Adenauer would be making an official announcement about The Wedding .
And then everyone would know . Everyone in Europe, everyone in the whole world would know that they were getting married. Ludwig was dreading it, but also wanted to get to it as soon as possible.
The anticipation of their future nuptials hung in his stomach uselessly, so he had decided that the best course of action was to bury it under all the work he had to do. Germany wouldn’t allow himself the time to mull over it.
“ Ah yes, how could I forget?” France laughed, and Germany felt himself reddening . “Everyone at the Elysee Palace has been buzzing about it – Charles is very excited to declare himself a matchmaker. He asked me if we had to book a hotel room for me or if I’d be sleeping in your house .”
He groaned at the thought - the idea of gossipy old French diplomats analyzing his love life was embarrassing.
Back in July, when he got back to his office in Bonn after spending the night with France, he had been certain that everyone knew about it. They all knew he had left with Marianne the night before; they all knew he had missed his train in the morning. Germany was never late for anything, but he missed his train because France didn’t have an alarm clock at her place and they both overslept. Mortifying by any account, but more than just the uncomfortable sensation of everyone knowing they had sex. It was the realization that everyone knew about it and seemingly accepted it with no issue.
Germany had fully expected to get scolded about his gross tardiness, had an entire apology speech prepared in his head, but Konrad just smiled and waved him off. Ludwig wanted the ground to open up and swallow him whole.
“I don’t want to think about that, France.”
“ I’m hurt. You don’t want to think about me sleeping in your bed ?”
He tried not to think about that, not to be presumptuous, not to expect her to sleep with him even if it had happened in the past. Germany looked around his office and tried to imagine himself going back to bed, only to find France already sprawled across his pillow. Wake up next to her in the morning. Have breakfast together. Take turns brushing their teeth.
All those nebulous, vague things that married couples did together. That routine.
“I’d rather be sleeping in my bed at the moment.” He put the image out of his head completely, focused on the immediate feeling of tired and frustrated. “When you called, I was certain it was going to be a war declaration. I’m still struggling to understand why you called at all. What could be so important that you couldn’t wait until Tuesday?”
“There was nothing. Not really. ” A pause on the other hand, and he pressed the telephone closer to his ear. He heard France inhale deeply – cigarette , no doubt. “I simply couldn’t sleep. I wanted to talk to someone. I don’t think it mattered what about, I simply wanted to talk.”
He tried to piece together the image of her, sitting on her couch, dressed in her nightgown and bored out of her mind. The France in his imagination was always perfectly coiffed, her lips were red, her lashes were dark with make-up.
“And you thought about calling me? Do you always need to call someone to talk when you can’t sleep?”
Another pause, longer this time. There was movement on the other end of the line, and he imagined her shifting, running her elegant fingers through her hair like she sometimes did when she was agitated.
Why would she be agitated?
Germany frowned – he didn’t feel like deciphering her at this point: it required too much energy and then thoughts of her darted at the corners of his mind for days on end. France was a capricious woman, and figuring out what the best course of action with her would be was mostly a wild guess.
“Well, who were you calling before?” he snapped at her, feeling like he was pulling answers with pliers, like France wanted to complicate his life more than it already was.
“ England .”
Truth be told, he should have expected that answer, shouldn’t he? But it still took him off guard, not just the plainness of it, but also the tone of it, the low, soft voice, the pitch. Suddenly his mental image of her shifted without his permission, France was no longer the perfectly beautiful bored seductress that was calling to toy with him, she was that tired woman with circles like bruises under her eyes, the one that ran her hand through her hair and worried her lip and smoked cigarette after cigarette.
France had called him because she couldn’t sleep, because she used to call England before, but now he wasn’t an option. Something in his chest felt extraordinarily heavy.
“I’m not England.” There were so many other things he could have said, but it was the first that came to him. Germany realized by how much he had missed the mark when he heard her laughing, mean and bitter and sardonic.
“Believe it or not, Ludwig, I know that. I never agreed to marry England.”
He felt a headache pulsing at the base of his skull, and his stomach knotted at the sound of her voice. Germany wanted to comfort her and wanted to hang up on her too, because there was a contradiction of emotions inside him, and he sat there at the crossroads of what impulse he was supposed to follow.
“Marianne, what do you want me to say?” He didn’t sigh, but he wanted to. Wanted to hit his head against a wall, too.
Ludwig didn’t want to think about what England would tell her. He didn’t want to think about him at all, he didn’t want to think about the intimacy between the two of them or how he was supposed to deal with France now that the casual intimacy of calling someone in the middle of the night was no more.
Was he the one that was supposed to do that from now on? Did this happen often? What do you even talk about – do you try to fall back asleep or…? Germany used his phone for business, for important information that needed to be conveyed or received quickly. What expectations did France have of him? Was this something that should come naturally to him, or was it a routine that had to be taught?
“Nothing. Nothing . I just – merde , I shouldn’t have called – I’ll see you next week, Ludwig.”
And with that, she hung up on him.
He realized that he had upset her, but was it supposed to be serious enough for him to worry about it? Was he supposed to call her back and apologize? That seemed absurd. While he did regret being somewhat callous, he only sighed and put the phone back down. Went back to bed. It took a long time to fall asleep, despite how tired he was.
On the 4th of September 1962, the plane with the French Presidential delegation arrived in Bonn. France got out of the plane a few steps behind De Gaulle – they headed for the official greetings, the photo-ops.
Germany walked over to them. While he had admittedly felt his stomach knotting at the thought of seeing her for the whole morning, any hope he had for a pleasant time in Marianne’s company was dashed the second he set his eyes on her.
“ Herr Beilschmidt , thank you very much for coming to greet us,” she said, perfectly polite, with a quirk of her lips that was rehearsed and maddeningly fake.
It took him off guard for a second, because he had expected something different, he had expected a smile that reached her eyes, he had expected…
But maybe she was tired? There were obvious circles under her eyes, and when they started moving across the tarmac he took note of the way her mouth got tense and her eyebrows furrowed when she thought she could get away with it.
Germany told himself that whatever was going on with her, it was surely going to pass by the time they had to talk to each other, but then – when they got in the limousine with their respective leaders, France turned to look out the window. She was content to ignore him, while De Gaulle spoke to Adenauer and Germany was wondering what he could have done to deserve this awkwardness.
The glaring issue is that everyone noticed that Marianne was – not avoiding him, but giving him the cold shoulder. She was frosty and overly protocolary, not just on the car ride, but throughout the day as well. Time dragged on and France spoke only when spoken to, while Germany became increasingly agitated on how to deal with her.
It wasn’t just that she was cold, she was cold in a way that he couldn’t even remember from before – during the war, she had been vicious. Smirking, cruel and serpentine, she had pushed at him fearlessly, mocked him and teased him, enjoyed the way in which he got angry and patted herself on the back whenever she was able to make him flush. During the negotiations for the Great War she had been angry and vengeful, but she had been honest in those emotions, because Germany couldn’t imagine anyone being a good enough actor to fake that sort of rage.
He had seen her angry, and this wasn’t it. As a result, he could only conclude that this was some way in which she was punishing him for a perceived slight, for his callousness when she called him a few days ago, for something she saw in the papers, for something that she interpreted and overanalyzed. Which was – unfair, to say the least. Ludwig was the first to admit that he hadn’t reacted all that well when Marianne reached out to him, but he had been taken by surprise by the whole thing. Meanwhile, she almost completely refused to look at him, which he thought was a bit extreme given the circumstances they were in, and the fact that half the point of this Alliance Tour was for marital preparations.
It would be an excruciating week if the bride-to-be was completely unwilling to cooperate and did her very best to ignore him.
They sat next to each other during the first day of meetings and Germany was absolutely mortified by the way people were throwing looks at them. France seemed immune to it, though he saw how she winced around loud noises and how she discreetly rubbed her temples. As a result, Germany couldn’t even be upset with her for putting him in such an awkward position, because France looked like she was also suffering through a migraine as well.
Stubborn and infuriating though she was, he didn’t want to see her in pain, even if her behavior was causing a headache for him as well. He told one of his assistants to get France some ibuprofen, so he could continue feeling indignant, yet also guilty – but at least now he wouldn’t be worrying about her health in the process.
By the time they went to dinner, Ludwig was just about ready to start yelling at his canapes, when France abruptly sat up from her spot to proclaim that she wasn’t hungry and she wanted to go outside for a bit. Germany sat there, dumbstruck, while De Gaulle tsked into his glass and said –
“Not that I want to interfere or presume that I know better, but I think this might be the point in which you’re supposed to go after her? It’s not polite to let a lady leave a restaurant all by herself.”
“What’s gotten into her?” he asked, feeling how there was an angry throb behind his eyes.
“If only I knew – in the years that I have served Madame Bonnefoy, I realized very quickly that her moods are mercurial. Tread cautiously, I’d advise, but the lady is fond of you, so I don’t assume you have anything to fear.”
Germany wasn’t sure what sort of encouragement he was supposed to take from President De Gaulle, but nonetheless, he wasn’t going to let France wander outside alone while she was his guest, marriage arrangements or not.
So he took a deep breath, counted down from ten, went after her. At least it didn’t take long to find her, as Marianne was sitting on a wooden bench outside the restaurant, lit cigarette between her dainty fingers, exhaling a fine cloud of smoke. The fine cloud of smoke might as well have been a dark cloud of moodiness and angst, as France’s expression was not one that he would categorize as friendly.
Germany felt a looming dread befall him, complete with long-suffering sigh. There was no way to avoid this, though, so he straightened his back and walked over to Marianne, sat next to her on the bench and didn’t say anything at first. The smoke from her cigarette bothered him, but he didn’t say anything about it – rather, as if his body was acting on its own accord, he started tapping his foot rhythmically.
France took a deep drag of her cigarette and then turned to him sharply, blew her smoke right in his face, so close that it made his eyes water, made him cough.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked between coughs, trying to blink away the smoke from his eyes. “Why did you do that?”
France looked directly at him and picked up her purse, got up from her seat and started walking away briskly without even saying a word. Germany felt a sudden spike in his blood pressure, but he caught up with her.
“France, where are you going?” He tried to sound as calm as possible, which was a challenge considering everything.
“Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m going to my hotel. I’m tired .”
“And you’re going to… walk? Do you even know how to get there?”
“I’m sure I’ll figure it out,” she shot back with a huff.
“Why didn’t you just ask one of the drivers to…”
“I don’t want one of the drivers to take me back.” France stopped in the street, crossed her arms over her chest and looked at him with her mouth set in grimace.
“You could have taken a taxi if you really want to leave.”
“ No .”
She glared at him.
Ludwig remembered how he promised himself, no matter what, he would try to make things work. If the whole diplomatic arrangement between them collapsed in a burning pile of flames and petty fury, it would not be because of him. Whatever was going on with her, they could talk about it later, in private, without airing their dirty laundry for everyone to see. As much as he wanted to give in to the impulse of having a shouting match with France in the middle of the street, he also refused to be that sort of man.
So Germany sighed and made up his mind to indulge her.
“Do you want me to drive you?”
“Why is this a question?” One of her delicate eyebrows was raised and her tone was as if Germany was being deliberately stupid. “ Of course I want you to drive me, Ludwig.”
As if it was that simple, as if he should have known from the start. There was a brief period of awkwardness when he had to go back to the restaurant, get one of the drivers to give him the car keys and then double check where the hotel was supposed to be. He was not looking forward to being in a small, enclosed space with her while her mood was so rotten, but he was going to try talking to her, hopefully get her into a more agreeable disposition.
France followed him to where the Mercedes was parked, went to the passenger side and as Germany made to open the driver’s seat, she cleared her throat loudly .
“I know you were raised by Prussia of all people, so I know not to expect too much gallantry ,” she said, in a voice that could cut glass, “but it is generally accepted that men are meant to open the passenger door for a lady.”
It would most likely cause an international incident if Germany were to get in the car and drive off without her, which was something he wanted to avoid. He went to the other side of the car, kept his back very straight as he opened the car door for her. France’s nose went up and she made one those haughtily little ‘ tsk’ noises as she got in.
She kept her gaze firmly on the window and for the first ten to twelve minutes, during which Germany was making a list of pros and cons on how he was supposed to start a conversation. Finally, he settled on -
“I told America.”
“I told America about us getting married, like you asked,” he repeated, voice louder. France didn’t turn towards him. Her forehead was pressed against the glass of the window.
“And? How did it go?” She sounded as if she was struggling very hard to seem bored, but there was a note of interest and gossipy curiosity underneath that.
“ Horrible . I let him know in private and he seemed surprised, but at the same time he didn’t react to it much. Then, we proceeded with the meeting as scheduled. As we were talking about the escalating situation with the Soviets, he stopped all of a sudden and asked ‘ Does marrying France mean you’re gonna be my step-dad? ’”
France snorted a laugh before she could stop herself.
“ Oh Mon Dieu , Alfred would . How did you react to it?” She snuck a look towards him before she remembered she was supposed to be mad at him and turned back to the window.
“How was I supposed to react? Mostly I wanted to disappear, but I tried to carry on with the meeting. The whole mood had been ruined. I kept thinking how strange it all was.” Germany shrugged. France made a small, thoughtful noise and from the corner of his eye, he could see how the hard line of her shoulders seemed to loosen slightly.
It was dark outside at the streetlight shined golden across the night. When they stopped at the traffic light, France turned toward him and the yellow light cast a warm glow around her head, but the cars that passed on the other lane made shadows dark over her features. Her mouth was still perfectly red. He ran the tip of his tongue over the back of his lips, as he looked at her red mouth and remembered how she kissed him goodbye on the train platform in Reims months ago.
France looked at him too – her lashes were lowered, and he didn’t know what was running through her head, what she was thinking about. It was just a bit harder to breathe inside the car.
“The light’s turning green, Ludwig,” she said, and unbuckled her seatbelt and lowered herself across the seat, pressed face over his lap. Before he had the chance to protest, someone honked their horn behind them and he had to drive, despite having a blonde head in his lap.
“What are you doing?” he asked, trying to sound reasonable, but he was aware of the slight manic edge in his voice.
“Keep your eyes on the road, Ludwig. I don’t want you to get distracted.” And with that, she nuzzled against his crotch.
“ Marianne ,” Germany hissed – instinctively, he put his hand on the back of her skull, but instead of getting the message of moving away, she pressed harder, murmured something indistinct that only served to send hot vibrations through his body.
“I kept thinking about sucking you off, you know.” Arousal spiked through him at the sound of her voice, his body responding to her against his better judgement.
“I thought you were upset with me,” he said between clenched teeth. France laughed; open mouth pressed over his rapidly hardening cock through the layers of fabric.
“I am,” she answered him plainly, “but I’m not upset with your cock.”
He stopped at the next traffic light and bit his lip to stop himself from making sounds. France pulled down his zipper, fingers snaking inside his pants to feel him through his boxers, squeezing and massaging. The lucky part of the whole situation was that Germany was an exceptionally good driver, because at least he did not miss any of the road signs or the gear changes.
“Most men with cocks as big and thick as yours never get fully hard, but look at you. ” Her mouth closed around him through the fabric, teeth pressing just enough so he could feel it, moisture and heat soaking through. “I barely touch you and you’re already like a rock.”
“ Fuck , Marianne, I...”
“ Tsk , focus on the road, Ludwig. What if we get pulled over?”
“That wouldn’t be an issue if you wouldn’t – “ he stopped himself, realizing he sounded… choked and breathless, exactly as turned on as he was, and France pressed her tongue against the fabric of his boxers, and he wanted to pull over and thrust into her mouth. Grab her hair. Finish down her throat.
He only pulled over in front of her hotel, though, and when they got there, France straightened. Smirk on her face, hair mussed, eyes shining – she was mean and exciting, and Ludwig wanted to kiss her, wanted to ruin her, but his body was all high strung and he couldn’t trust himself to touch her because how would he stop if he started?
She was so close to him too, her face was so close to his, centimeters separating them, smoky breath across his mouth. He kept a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel. France leaned forward and Germany stayed perfectly still. She brushed her nose against his and didn’t kiss him.
All the points in which they weren’t touching longed for her.
Marianne pulled back abruptly and Ludwig swayed slightly towards her before he caught himself. Heat spread across his face, while she looked so damn pleased. Not for the first time, he thought back to Prussia’s theory that all Romance nations were soul-sucking succubi, and thought there might be some truth to it after all.
“You’re terrible ,” he told her, fully recognizing the whine in his voice and not caring about it. She just shook her head and laughed.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Ludwig.” The way she said that had a victorious finality to it – purpose achieved, game won, nothing more.
She got out of the car and closed the door behind her. Germany followed her retreating silhouette, the movement of her hips, the curve of her ass. When she finally disappeared into her hotel he groaned loudly, banged his forehead against the steering wheel. Frustrated with himself, with her, with the situation.
Marianne was always playing some sort of game, wasn’t she? He wasn’t arrogant enough to think that he had some sort of special pass around her, but it left him feeling so stupid because he bought into it without questioning it at all while it was happening, only to be left wondering about her once again. Cruelty or want, or rather a combination of the two. Meant to elicit a reaction, of course, but also just for the sheer pleasure of fucking with him.
It was the sort of game that Ludwig did not want to play, too many complications and variables adding on top of each other – assumptions and guessing and exercises in mind-reading. Ludwig considered himself an honest man, and he didn’t think it was too much to ask for some measure of openness in return.
There was a lipstick stain across the fabric of his pants, across his boxers, and it just made him feel more than slightly ashamed about the whole thing, about all the thoughts that had been racing through his head, about the sheer and utter want. Ludwig glared at his crotch, where his cock was still hard and missing Marianne.
Back in 1904, before they signed the Entente, France and England had a massive disagreement, which caused her to storm out in a huff and ignore him for around a week or so. Germany knew about this, because in response to that fight, France proceeded to run away to Berlin , of all places.
Germany remembered how it rained outside that night and how cold it was, how she beat on the door of their house. He had felt the presence of another nation nearby, so he answered the door himself, possibilities already running through his head. Instead of a bad omen of war, what he found on his doorstep was France - Marianne Bonnefoy herself, with her clothes soaked through and her hair unraveled.
“Does your sister still live here?” she asked, out of breath, while a droplet of rainwater rolled off the bridge of her nose.
“Yes, she does,” Ludwig responded, wondering what in the world France could possibly want with Prussia.
“Oh, thank God,” she exclaimed, visibly relieved, and she walked past Germany with confidence, going straight for their drawing room. The soaked dress she wore made a wet, slapping sound as she moved, and she left a trail of rainwater and mud over their hardwood floor.
France took the bottle of kirschwasser they kept for guests, but instead of pouring herself a small glass, she took one of the brandy snifters and filled it more than halfway through. Ludwig watched with a sort of scandalized fascination as France drank the whole thing in big, greedy gulps, how she swayed a little when she set the glass down and breathed through her open lips. Then – she turned to him, squinting suspiciously as if she was trying to figure out something about him.
“You’ve gotten taller since I last saw you,” she concluded, miraculously not stumbling over her words as she should have, given the amount of alcohol she just ingested.
“Thank you?” he tried responding. The sound of careless trotting stopped further conversation.
“Why are you here and why do you look like a whore in front of my brother?” Prussia’s voice boomed and Germany felt himself cringing at his sister’s disapproval. However, France seemed to pay her no mind.
“He asked me to move to London again, Julchen ,” she said by way of explanation, her voice high-pitched and whiny, obviously upset. In response to that, Prussia visibly winced.
“Oh, that bullshit again. So I assume you’re here cause you wanted to get trashed and curse the thrice-damned British Empire, right?”
And with that, Germany left them alone. The rest of the night, Marianne and Julia madea huge dent in the alcohol supply of the house, and Ludwig struggled not to eavesdrop on them. It was hard to achieve, considering that drunk France tended to be loud, and Prussia was always loud , but she was even worse after she got some schnapps in.
“And he keeps asking me to move to London, but then he laughs when I suggest he should move to Paris. He gets angry at me when I tell him I don’t want to, as if I’m just supposed to give into it because he wants me to, as if this is just like everything else, when it’s not .” She was loud, and spoke too fast, her accent slipping in thickly. Germany struggled not to hear that, not to be too curious, too interested.
In the morning, he went down later than usual and found them both still in the drawing room, his sister passed out in the armchair while France had fallen asleep on the chaise-lounge.
During the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, France’s hair had been a long tumble of golden curls, usually kept in elaborate hairstyles that took hours to reproduce. However, that morning when Ludwig went to the drawing room to check on the two of them, he found France with her hair spilling all around her, over the arm of the chaise-longue and over her face. Her dress was wrinkled and rode up in her sleep, exposing delicate ankles and calves.
Dumbly, his mind went straight to his childhood story book that Prussia and Hungary and Austria used to read for him – the beautifully illustrated Kinder und Hausmärchen that had Dornröschen sleeping in her bed, with her golden hair unraveled on the pillows around her and thorny rose bushes growing all around her.
Germany knew that France was anything but a beautiful, gracious princess. The night before, he’d seen her gulp down alcohol as if it was water, but that didn’t stop him from looking at her.
Ludwig thought himself a practical man – he appreciated aesthetics up to a certain degree, but it wasn’t something he focused on or strived towards, it wasn’t in his nature to give into the artifice and illusion.
The image of France remained in his head though, beautiful as a painting and lacking any sort of substance, caught in a moment with the morning sunlight catching in her hair and her eyes closed. That France wasn’t something he was supposed to see: she was just as untouchable and unreal as Dornröschen. She belonged in another lifetime, and that idealized aesthetic had no business poking through Ludwig’s thoughts.
Germany wondered what sort of behavior he was supposed to expect from her the next day. When he walked into the Bundeshaus the next morning, he could feel the slight anxiety that his staff had, everyone still unsure what sort of situation they should expect with the French Delegation. President De Gaulle was all smiles and charms and good will, but France’s curt behavior the previous day hadn’t gone completely unnoticed among staff. Everyone likely just hoped whatever happened was fixed now, and there would be no reason to reconsider their plans.
Privately, Germany hoped that everyone was too focused on the crowds of people that happily cheered for De Gaulle and Adenauer, and no one caught a picture of France sulking ignoring him. That wouldn’t play very well with the narrative of a Franco-German marriage, would it?
However, when France came in waltzing minutes later, with her soft silk skirt swishing, her curls bouncing and her heels tapping on the floor, it was clear that her mood had improved. Everyone collectively breathed a sigh of relief and Germany hoped that torturing him yesterday had been enough to pacify whatever angry beast resided inside her.
One thing he noticed was that France wasn’t just in a better mood, she was… charming. As the morning went on, she moved graciously around the halls and rooms of the Bundeshaus and spoke in flawless, elegant German to his ministers. She smiled and batted her eyelashes and left a trail of perfume behind her.
They had a fifteen minute break and he caught France outside in the garden, smoking a cigarette as she was surrounded by people that hung onto her every word. Three men and a woman offered to light her cigarette. She giggled . She spotted him across the courtyard and waved him over, only to grab onto his arm and bid “ adieu, farewell, it was lovely meeting you all ” over her shoulder.
The sun shone just enough and France smiled perfectly – Germany was sure he saw the exact moment one of his assistants fell in love with her.
It was also completely fake, Ludwig was sure of it, it was all artifice, but so, so beautifully crafted. He didn’t say anything until he was sure no one could hear them –
“Stop flirting with my staff.”
“Why? It’s fun. They blush very cutely. I think it’s a German trait.” She kept her voice sweet, but the edge of her smile was sharp and teasing. He stole a glance at her and heat bloomed over his face. Try as he might, all could think about was how she pressed her face against his crotch and told him she ‘ kept thinking about sucking him off .’ As in, thought about it more than once.
“ Stop flirting with my staff,” he repeated, a bit more firmly, guilty over the dirty thoughts that went through his head.
France pressed herself closer to his side, chest sticking out in such a way that he felt the swell of her breast. He bit his tongue. Got redder. France laughed .
“Do you want me to flirt with you?”
“ No , don’t flirt at all while we’re working .”
“But then where’s the fun?” she countered with a smirk.
Later in the afternoon, he lost France for a bit while he was listening in on a press conference that De Gaulle and Adenauer were both participating in. When he realized she wasn’t around, he went to look for her and found her hiding in his office.
France was lying on the small two-seater, head pillowed on her hand and her shoes discarded on the floor. Germany closed the door behind him, and took a step inside, wondered if he was supposed to let her sleep or wake her up. He crouched in front of her face, took in the way her eyelids twitched, the curve of her cheek, the soft-looking pout of her lips. He didn’t touch her.
“What do you want, Ludwig?” Marianne startled him, mouth moving, eyes still closed.
“I thought you were asleep,” he answered lamely, wondering if he should get up and leave the room without saying anything else. It was then when France sighed deeply and blinked open her blue eyes.
“No, I’m not sleeping. I haven’t been able to sleep in a while. I was just resting my eyes a bit.” She sat up slowly, arched her back and yawned. She looked sleepy, a bit hazy, and Ludwig wanted to cup her cheek and tell her to lie back down. She took one look at him and snorted, “Don’t look at me like that, Ludwig. Insomnia is very common for me, I promise there’s nothing new to this.”
There was a tug in his chest at that, a little bit of guilt that poked at him.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s alright, Ludwig. This isn’t something you need to worry about.” She let her head fall back against the backrest of the couch and tapped the spot next to her. “Sit with me.”
He sat down and Marianne promptly threaded her arm through his and put her head on his shoulder, closed her eyes and sighed. The honey-sweet smell of her perfume and the smokey cigarettes filled his nostrils and Ludwig wondered if he was allowed to run his fingers through her hair or not. Something that had been coiled tightly around his spine loosened.
The afternoon was warm enough for September, and his office wasn’t big enough to take away from the hazy golden glow. There were people outside, walking down the corridors and speaking loudly towards each other. There was a crowd of journalists right in front of the Bundeshaus, people yelling questions and crowds cheering. Ludwig thought he might be able to sit with her in silence for a long time, get lured in by the sense of calm that settled between the two of them. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back.
He wondered how long it would take to understand all the things about each other they needed to understand, and then – was it really important to understand? Maybe they didn’t need to.
Germany was startled out of his thoughts by his telephone, the shrill sound of it making France groan and tighten her grip around his arm.
“I supposed it would be too much to ask you to ignore that, wouldn’t it?”
“You suppose right,” he countered as he got up from his comfortable seat next to France so he could answer. “Beilschmidt speaking.”
“Ah, Germany. Been while, hasn’t it?” It was England’s voice on the other end of line.
“I suppose it has. What can I do for you, England?”
France took a sharp intake of breath at the sound of his name.
“ Funny story here, Germany. I’ve been trying to get a hold of France – it seems she’s completely unreachable .” There was tightly controlled anger in his voice, “ and here I was wanting to congratulate her on her upcoming nuptials, but should I congratulate you instead? It’s quite bad manners that I should hear about it from America, but not from her .”
Germany kept the receiver against his ear and his face blank. France was looking at him with nervousness plainly written across her face, her fingers keeping a white-knuckled grip on the couch cushions. He saw France worrying her lower lip and he wanted to hang up the phone.
“I’m afraid I didn’t know about that,” he answered, voice calm.
“Of course you didn’t .” England laughed, and it scratched against Ludwig’s ear. “I know she’s there, everyone saw it in the papers and on the news. Put her on the phone.”
Germany closed his eyes, feeling a twinge of annoyance that he was dragged into this centuries-long drama without having a say in it. He always suspected it would be like this, but it took him by surprise just how angry he was with England, how much he resented being put in this situation. However, he also didn’t want to aggravate and antagonize an already volatile situation.
“No, I won’t .” England already started protesting, but he spoke over him. “I’m going to hang up now – you can call back after that, and she can choose whether or not she answers the phone.” And with that, Ludwig put the receiver back in its place, with as much composure as he could muster.
Germany told himself that he would be alright with the situation, that he had expected it, that he knew damn well France and England would always be tied to each other by their shared history. That it wouldn’t bother him, that it wouldn’t matter, not as long as their arrangement was stable.
That it was fitting punishment for all parties involved, to tie themselves in half-measured relationships and emotional inertia.
Blue eyes met each other and he didn’t want to figure out what he saw in France’s eyes. Something between betrayal and relief and longing. He inhaled and told himself – this odd sweeping drop in his stomach was caused by his emotional detachment, nothing more, nothing less, and yet…
Ludwig had no natural predilections towards cruelty, and he didn’t take any satisfaction in causing harm, but he couldn’t deny the small pleasure he’d felt at hanging up on England.
The phone started ringing again.
“England is calling.”
Marianne looked at the phone, but she didn’t move. He could see how she was biting into her lips, how her fingernails were still grabbing into the couch cushions. Her eyes started getting glassy and far off.
“Aren’t you going to answer?” he challenged.
“What would be the point?” Marianne countered. “What would we say to each other that we haven’t said already?”
She slipped on her shoes. Ran a hand through her hair. Blinked rapidly. Stood up, but instead of coming towards the desk and answering the ringing telephone, she turned around and left the office, without sparing him a glance. This time, however, he was prepared for this trick and knew he was supposed to go after her.
They walked together side by side, and Ludwig kept wondering if he was the one who should start the conversation, or if it was one of those moments in which it was best to shut up and let her talk to him first. Walking through crowds of people, walking outside, walking, walking, walking .
“Have you ever drowned?” Marianne asked him, with the setting sun behind her and the Rhine rolling angry in front of her.
“I don’t think I have.”
“I have. I drowned at Trafalgar.” France’s face was sometimes very sharp, and sometimes deceptively, disarmingly soft. There were moments, though, when something else bled through, a raw, angry viciousness more honest than any of her charm. “Do you know how? I threw myself off Arthur’s ship.”
“Because I was angry!” she yelled, and her voice broke at the end of it. Her mouth got caught in a snare, and she put a cigarette between her lips only to struggle with the lighting it up. “He put his hand on my jaw and forced me to look at the ruin of my ships, only to say – Now you’re supposed to apologize for this .”
She finally managed to light her cigarette and took a deep drag out of it.
“That bastard . Threw myself off the ship so I wouldn’t have to deal with him, but once my dress got wet – there was no way I could swim like that. Arthur threw himself in the water after me, of course, but I think he also drowned in the process. I’m not sure, in all honesty. I remember I woke up a few days later, because it took a while for them to fish me out of the water. I never forgave him for that.”
France shook her head, as if it would do anything to snuff out the dark thoughts out of her head. She turned towards Ludwig and put herself right in front of him, looked up at him with challenge written all over her face, daring him to say something. Ludwig realized how brittle she was.
A biting breeze ruffled her hair, her dress. It made her shiver and she crossed her arms over her chest in an effort to protect herself from the cold, but Ludwig felt like it was his duty to prevent that. He took off his suit jacket and settled it over her shoulders, let his hands linger on her body.
He shouldn’t , but he wanted to.
The pink tip of her tongue poked out, ran over her lips. France’s eyes closed and she swayed closer to him, brushed her nose against his. Inhaled.
Kissing her would be so easy.
Marianne raised a hand to his face, cupped his cheek. Ran a finger over the skin beneath his eyes. Over his cheekbones. The bridge of his nose.
“I’m tired,” she said, and breathed a soft laugh across his mouth. Palm on the back of his neck. Body pressed closer. “And I don’t want to go back.” His hand on her waist.
“Then what do you want to do?” he asked her again. Marianne shrugged – and put her arms over his shoulders. He wondered if the embrace was for his sake or her own, if she wanted to soothe his coiling jealousy or if she was searching for comfort for her own frazzled emotions.
“I’m not sure.” Marianne let her head fall back slightly, the elegant column of her throat arching for him. “I want to walk around a bit. I want to…”
She looked at him through her lashes and smiled with too many teeth. “Why don’t you show me around?”
“Show you around? What am I supposed to show you?”
When they walked side by side by the bank of the Rhine, she kept his jacket over her shoulders and smoked her Gauloises. Her perfume and the smoke of her cigarettes would seep into the wool of the jacket – he should get it to the dry-cleaners afterward, or else he would never be able to take out the smell of her out of it.
“I don’t know – show me about Bonn. Tell me things – tell me something you’re proud of, that you achieved since the war ended. Tell me what you want for your future. What plans are you making? What’s a hobby you have? What do you like ?” Marianne laughed, but it had an edge to it. “Help me get to know you, Ludwig.”
Where was he supposed to even start?
There were so many things he struggled with, yet he refused to think about what he wanted for the future. He hoped that somewhere in his future, he could see Prussia again. It would be lovely, wouldn’t it, to see Prussia and Hungary and Austria all together again, as Ludwig remembered them from his childhood. The world had been different then – he had his sister and something that felt like a family surrounding him.
He used to have so many hopes and dreams for his future – these days, it felt like the best he could muster was ‘ Don’t die as collateral damage in a nuclear war between Russia and America.’
What else was there?
“I’m learning how to cook,” he answered her, settling on something harmless.
“Ah, that’s fantastic! You’ll have to cook for me, then,” she told him with a smile that looked much too pretty to be genuine. “We can do something tonight. I haven’t eaten anything yet and I’m starving.”
And with that, it was settled – France wouldn’t want to hear no for an answer, and determined that the only acceptable way to deal with her malaise would be if Ludwig cooked her dinner. Personally, Ludwig was certain that was a very specific type of emotional blackmail, and yet he wasn’t opposed to the idea of having France over for dinner.
They ended up having to shop together for groceries and, between the disgust of having to step inside an Aldi and the way she squinted when she looked at the prices, as if she didn’t trust any of them, Germany came to the sudden, dreadful realization that the entire process was a novel experience for her.
“How can someone live without shopping for groceries?” he asked her, somewhat irritated, but mostly just baffled.
“Why would I? I have people for that. Plus – I never cook, I eat out. The only thing I shop for is wine and perfume.”
“What about cleaning supplies?”
“I dry clean my clothes and I have a lovely cleaning lady who comes over three times a week.”
And it was right there, in that Aldi, while sitting in the frozen produce department, Ludwig Beilschmidt realized there might be irreconcilable differences between him and Marianne Bonnefoy.
“You’re a spoiled brat.”
“How dare you!” France’s mock outrage was so loud that other people turned to look at them. “I’m spoiled, but I’m most certainly not a ‘ brat .’ A high-class society lady, if you will.”
“An excellent thing that we agreed to never live together.”
“I was not made for something as plebeian as cooking or cleaning, mon doudou. Plus, why would I need to cook when you’re learning how to do it for me?” She smirked at him as she picked up a bag of frozen raspberries and threw them in the shopping cart. “I can teach you how to make sorbet, though.”
France had absolutely zero sense of practicality. This was something he should have expected, yet he couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that this woman had lived for so long surrounded by servants catering to her needs. It was so strange to think that a creature so spoiled had been his sister’s best friend, for better or for worse. Maybe this is where all the frustrations came from, all those times Julia yelled about Marianne being a hedonistic succubus suddenly making so much more sense.
France insisted on opening a bottle of dry white wine. She was drinking it in dainty little sips while offering the occasional critique of Germany’s cooking skills. She was dreadfully annoying. At some point, she poured half a glass of wine over his skillet.
“I’m simply helping with the deglazing process,” she offered as explanation, though her carelessness simply served to splatter a combination of wine and meaty brown bits over his shirt.
He was aiming for pork chops and mustard sauce. Simple enough and he’d done it for himself before, but with Marianne present and judging him, it was harder to focus on what he was supposed to be doing. She was propped against the kitchen cabinet next to his cooker, not saying much but being somewhat disapproving with her sheer presence.
At least she was agreeable during dinner.
“You’re not completely hopeless as a cook – which is surprising. Julia was always abysmal in the kitchen, so I’m pleased to say you did not inherit her lack of skill.”
He had stopped being a child a long time ago, but there was still a part of him that bristled whenever someone mentioned any of his sister’s faults. Though he’d stopped believing a long time ago that his sister was some shining beacon of flawless morality, sometimes he missed her like a chronic illness that settled into his bones.
“Julia did the best she could.”
“Oh, I know she did.” France topped up her glass of wine and drank from it deeply. “Just between you and me, I don’t think she was necessarily bad at it, she was just woefully unlucky and accident prone in the kitchen. Dear soul.”
France got this far off look to her after that, like she had become stuck in a loop inside her head. Ludwig thought it best to leave her to it, so he started to pick up the dirty dishes. While she didn’t help him with cleaning up, she got up from her seat and followed after him.
“Do you know? I think your sister may have been my only true friend. She was the only one that understood things without having to explain them. We both understood each other. I think, normally, she would have been shocked to hear about me marrying, but she would have so been happy to know it’s not with England.” She huffed a laugh into her wine glass, and right before she took a sip she added, “That is, if I were getting married to anyone else. As it stands, I’m marrying her baby brother, so I can only assume she will eviscerate me.”
“Oh, definitely. Hungary will help her,” Ludwig said, as he unbuttoned his shirt sleeves and rolled them up. He didn’t expect her to help him with the dishes, so he might as well get started on them already.
“ Witches, ” France said with a chuckle. Set her glass aside with a clink. Moved around his kitchen.
“You know Ludwig, I was so mad at you last week – I couldn’t sleep for days, and I felt so awfully, heartbreakingly lonely.” The accusation in her voice made him freeze “I finally caved and reached out to you, and what did you do?” She pressed herself against his back, breasts pushing, hands snaking around his middle. “You cut me off like I’m a nuisance.”
“ Shhhh , hush now, mon amour , I’m talking.” Her lips were pressed against the side of his throat, the words whispered against his skin, “Let me – ”
“That’s not fair.” He wanted to defend himself, but it was hard when she was holding him from behind, when he could feel her nails digging into his abdomen through the layers he was wearing. “You called in the middle of the night…”
“So I called you. And you cut me off like I was a nuisance.” her lips stretched into a snarl, the bite in her tone making him shiver. “And I got so upset with you. I told myself afterwards, France, he doesn’t understand. He will never understand, he’s a stupid child. ” She let go of him then and took a step back.
Ludwig turned around and leaned against the kitchen sink. He looked at Marianne, at the cold, calculated cruelty on her features – her face looked as if it would cut him if he touched her.
“What do you want me to say to you?”
“I don’t want you to say anything to me, I want you to listen.” Her eyes shone. “ Listen . I told myself, there’s no point in trying with Ludwig.” She blinked so fast. “After such a long time, haven’t you realized that you’ll never be able to change?”
France shut her eyes, scrunched her nose. Scratched at her skin.
“And I got my shoes, and I told myself, I’m going to go to London, and I’m going ask Arthur to fuck me, because what’s one more mistake to be made, one more relationship broken, when it doesn’t really matter to anyone .”
“And did you?” he asked, cold. He knew the answer to that, but he wanted to hear her say it.
France was silent for a long time, worrying her lips. He thought she would draw blood – maybe she wanted to. Ludwig wanted to hear her say it, say that he was right, he wasn’t a fool who absolutely misjudged her, just say…
“Because I – I thought about something. I used to be very vocal about my affairs, you know, and I remembered how Prussia asked me once – Whose heart are you looking to break with all that? Truth be told, most often, I had no idea. Mine, mostly. Arthur’s, because we were always using each other and hurting each other. Whoever got caught in the crossfire.”
The atmosphere in the kitchen was so heavy and thick. Ludwig refused to give her an inch in this, didn’t want to make it easy for her. Whatever she had to say to him, she could spit it out. There was a rolling, twisting something in his skin that wanted to grab her and pull her in his arms, but at the same time he also wanted to step away and not look at her anymore.
She looked at him with her shining blue eyes, fully of moisture and longing . Ludwig knew what longing looked like, what it felt like, even if he wasn’t quite sure what she was longing for.
“But I don’t want to hurt you like that. You don’t deserve it.”
The confession was honest – and that was the problem, France’s honesty was so disarming, he felt all the anger uncoiling for him and he sighed. There was a frisson of tension still vibrating through him, but it wasn’t something he knew how to name. A need .
“Why are you telling me all this?”
“I’m not sure.” Marianne laughed. Shook her head. Golden curls in her face. Looked at him out of the corner of her eye, mischievous. Plotting . Took a step forward, and another. “Do I need a reason?”
“Yes. You could have just left things as they were.”
Marianne crowded him against the kitchen cabinets, raised herself on her tiptoes. Ludwig struggled to ignore her, eyes closing when he felt the wine on her breath, the closeness of her against his mouth.
“You didn’t have to tell me – ” but he cut himself off. It was hard to focus on words.
“I suppose – ” Marianne ran her tongue over her lips, very, very deliberately. “I want you to punish me. Put me in my place. Remind me that I’m supposed to belong to you now.”
“I’m not the punishing type,” he told her firmly. Ludwig wanted to tell her that he wasn’t a jailer. He didn’t want to own her – Ludwig wanted Marianne to want him.
“I know that – cruelty doesn’t suit you,” she said, as she unbuckled his belt and unzipped his fly, pushed his pants down along with his boxers and dropped to her knees in front of him. Marianne looked up at him and smirked, pressed her cheek against his cock.
There was a spike of embarrassed arousal at that, because he was already hard, had been so since she pressed herself against him to whisper angry accusations against his skin, had been on edge since they had been together at on the pier, since yesterday in the car, since they spoke, since they last saw each other. Had thought about her whenever he shouldn’t have, thought about her since they last saw each other. Ludwig felt as if he had been caught with his hand in a cookie jar, like his attraction to her and his want were things that needed to be stored away and hidden from sight.
“Ludwig, punishment is a matter of perspective.” Marianne smiled, ran her hands up his body and offered her wrists, pressed together, in front of his face. He grabbed them with one hand, marveled how his palm could encircle both of her slim, elegant wrists at the same time, and when she pressed a kiss against the base of his cock he realized it was what she wanted. “You can grab my hair, too, and thrust into my mouth.”
Ludwig wanted to protest that it would be very rude to do that and he didn’t want to make her gag, but then she just opened her mouth and swallowed him down, forced herself to take all of his length down her throat in one motion. The suddenness of it made him gasp and buck, hand on her wrists tightening, grabbing her hair almost on instinct.
He felt her choking around him, struggling to swallow, forcing herself to relax. Ludwig was fascinated by it, how her lips stretched around his cock, how her cheeks hollowed when she bobbed her head, how saliva dripped off her chin, how her eyes watered, and Marianne looked up at him with her make-up smudged below her lash line. He ran his fingers through her hair and cupped the back of her head – he wanted to tell she could go slow, or just not force herself at all, but then she pulled off of him completely and he bit the inside of his cheek to stop himself from whining.
Marianne pressed her tongue flat against the base of his shaft, dragged it upwards.
“Why are you holding back?” she asked him with a smirk, wrapping her lips around the head. Her tongue swirled around the head of his dick and then pushed it out of her mouth with a lewd pop.
“I didn’t want to…” but there was a mess in his head and he wasn’t sure what language he was supposed to use with her. He swallowed and tried again. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You couldn’t ,” she answered him, her voice raw and amused. “I like it rough.” Her knees were spread against the kitchen tile, Marianne looking up at him, smirking. “I want you to use my mouth and come down my throat.”
She pulled her hands out of his grasp, took him by the wrists. Nuzzled her face against his open palm.
“If you hold my hair like this ...” She encouraged him to grab hold of her hair close to her scalp and pull it back slightly. The grip he had was secure and as soon as he tightened his fingers, he felt how her tension eased. “You can push inside deeper if you hold my head like this.”
And she really had a beautiful throat, long and elegant, veins and tendons hiding behind soft white skin. His movements were tentative at first, but then faster, faster , encouraged by the way she hummed, by how she kept looking at him through her fluttering eyelashes. Marianne swallowed when he came and kept sucking him through it, dragging her tongue over the head of his cock after he finished, until the overstimulation hurt and Ludwig shuddered from it.
She got up from her kneeling position and Ludwig followed her movement through the kitchen, slightly dazed and feeling as if he’d given into something he shouldn’t have. Marianne picked up her discarded wine glass and drank in it a gulp, and somehow that seemed almost obscene, so he had to look away.
“Ludwig?” She came over to him and pressed the long line of her body against him, put her arms around his shoulders and pressed her face into the crook of his neck. The warmth of her radiating into him felt good. He embraced her and kissed her hair.
And Marianne pulled up her skirt and guided his hand between her legs, felt how soaked through her underwear were. He pushed them aside and sneaked his fingers between her folds, and Marianne gasped at the sensation. Inside she was so wet. He crooked his fingers, and it made Marianne cling to him, moaning and rocking her hips shamelessly. He held her with an arm around her shoulders, peppered kisses over her sweaty face as he made her come.
When Marianne was slumped against Ludwig’s chest afterwards, he rubbed circles into her back and breathed in the smell of her, the sweetness of her perfume, the sweat underneath, the salty musk of her wetness and how it clung to his fingers. The silence and the closeness were comforting, and Ludwig wanted to believe that, at least in this, they understood each other.
There were bruises on France’s knees from where she had banged them against his kitchen tile, so Ludwig pressed the bag of frozen raspberries they bought earlier against her reddened skin. They were sitting on his bed, France’s legs settled over his lap while he pressed the cold bag of fruit against her skin and massaged the tension out of her calves. She was leaning back on her elbows and occasionally wiggling her toes.
At first, she laughed when he suggested it, and told him frankly that she was fine, but then – maybe she recognized that he wanted to fret over her and take care of her. Ludwig rubbed a finger over the jut of her boney ankle and turned to her. Marianne was looking at him with a strange, curious fondness on her face, and it made him blush red. He cleared his throat.
“I don’t want you to belong to me, you know.” He dragged his palm up and down the soft skin of her leg. “You’re always free to leave whenever you want. If you choose to stay, it should be because you want to be with me, not because I’m keeping you here.”
It made Marianne laugh, and she pushed herself into a sitting position only to drape herself over his side, face against his bare shoulder, pressing an open-mouthed kiss against his skin.
“Permit me to disagree with you here. Want is always about possession and ownership. You see something you like, you want to take it and make it yours.” Marianne bit him playfully. “It’s why conquest feels so damn good.”
“But that’s not…”
He felt a rising tide of frustration and yet Germany realized it would be pointless to argue against her. Earlier that day, France had told him how she threw herself out of a ship to get away from a man that she loved – because she had been angry. France’s idea of love seemed to be forged through warring, and fighting, and conquering.
And there was a part of Ludwig’s mind that understood it, because it was not hard to remember the delirious rush of power that came with that, how easy it had been to lose his mind in the thrill of it. How Marianne rejoiced in pushing against those wounds, how much she loved to reopen the sores in his head.
“Love isn’t supposed to be a prison, Marianne. It’s not supposed to be about hurting and punishing.”
“No, no, that’s not true. Love has teeth, Ludwig, like a wild animal that wants to tear you apart. The only love that ever feels worthwhile is the kind that leaves you with scars.”
He thought about how, during the war, there had been moments in which he got angry with her, truly angry, and while he didn’t yell, he wanted to – he wanted to ...
He didn’t know what he wanted. He didn’t want to find out, either.
“I don’t want that kind of love,” Ludwig confessed, his voice softer than he meant to.
Marianne smiled at him and cupped his cheek in her hand. She touched her forehead to his and sighed, didn’t kiss him, and when she spoke next, the words washed over his mouth.
“It’s fortunate, then, that we already established that we don’t expect love from each other.”
And with that, she turned away from him and laid down on the bed, face against the sheets, one knee underneath her to tilt her hips higher.
Ludwig touched the back of her knee, caressed upwards, the plush flesh on the inside her thigh. Her breath hitched when he reached too close to the dark, golden hair between her legs. He stopped there and dragged his fingers back down.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked her, knowing full well that he would give her whatever she asked for.
“Hmmm, let’s try something naughty,” she said, turning to look over her shoulder with a flirty smile – “ hit me .”
“ What ?!”
“Spank me, does that sound better?” she asked with a laugh, wiggling her hips against the bedsheets. “Spank me.”
Ludwig looked at her with some measure of uncertainty, already feeling his face starting to redden.
“But won’t that…?”
“Hurt?” Marianne rolled her eyes. “It’s the good kind of hurt. Plus, you can start slow, and I’ll tell you to go harder. I’ll tell you when to stop.” She got up on her knees and took off the shirt she was wearing before lying back down. “Really – it’s not even that kinky, but we need to start somewhere.”
She made a very appealing picture, with her ass in the air and her shoulders lowered, the elegant line of her spine arched. There were long, dark scars across her back that had been left there since the trenches of the Great War and Ludwig reached over to run his fingers over those marks.
“Don’t keep me waiting,” she said with a pout on her lips. Ludwig didn’t want to disappoint her, so he raised his hand and dropped it against her ass.
“ Harder ,” she hissed at him, so he obliged her.
While he wouldn’t want to admit it aloud, there was something mesmerizing about the way her skin reddened with each slap, how the soft flesh of her thighs and buttocks bounced slightly with the impact. The sound of his rhythmic slapping was intertwined with her whining and panting. She dropped her hips against the mattress and started rocking against the sheets – he could see how moisture was glistening between her legs, and suddenly he wanted to feel her there.
Ludwig pushed two fingers inside her and enjoyed the way she gasped from it, then slapped her buttocks again and Marianne’s hips started rocking against his hand. She was so wet, and that was another sound added to the room, the obscene squelching sound of his fingers pushing inside of her.
“Don’t stop, please, don’t…” Marianne’s cheek was pressed against the bed, her mouth open and murmuring encouragements. “ Again .”
So he hit her ass again, once, twice, three times in quick succession, and crooked his fingers inside her, and then hit her again. Marianne’s hips wouldn’t stop rocking, and he could see how sweat was running down the dips of her spine. His hand rested heavily on one of her warm, reddened cheeks, and he gripped it firmly, dug his fingers into her flesh before spanking her again, again and again , because she was sobbing for him to do it, please, please, more, please, Ludwig more , and he wasn’t a strong enough man to resist that.
He felt her coming around his fingers, bent over her to kiss and bite the skin on the back of her thighs, to suck marks where he spanked her before. Her body smelled like his shower gel, his sheets, his clothes, like her arousal and sweat seeping into his bed.
When Ludwig pulled his fingers from her, she whined and pulled her thighs together in protest. Marianne took a deep breath before she turned around, got on her knees and pushed him down onto the bed.
“I knew you had that in you, cheri ,” she said, straddling him and putting her hands on his chest to keep him down on the mattress.
“Thank you, I suppose.” He settled his hands over her hips, rubbing in circles and patterns over her skin. She settled herself over his shaft, snuck the length of him between her folds, grinded her clit over him without letting him inside. “What do you need from me next? How do you…?” Ludwig hissed, teeth clenched. Marianne was slippery wet between her legs, and she was rubbing over his dick without allowing him to fuck her.
“Hmmm… don’t move, I want ...” She closed her eyes, pressed her hood against the head of his cock and rolled , teasing both of them with the sensation. He wanted to push into her – she was dripping over him, he would slide in so easily , but instead he allowed himself to be sweetly tortured by her.
“Marianne, I…” I want you, I want to feel you, I need to kiss you, I….
But he bit his tongue to stop himself from saying anything stupid like that.
“I want to sit on your face,” she said to him plainly, and arousal shot through him viciously and mercilessly at that. It was probably visible in the way he flushed, how his eyes widened. Marianne figured it out and smirked, bent forward and kissed the tip of his nose before she asked again, mischievous, “may I?”
Ludwig wanted to kiss her so badly, but again, he didn’t.
“You may do whatever you want,” he answered her with a laugh, feeling overwhelmed and incredulous, thinking it was crazy to feel shy about kissing her now, yet somehow unable to bridge that distance between them.
Marianne crawled over his body, knees on both sides of his head, hands gripping the headboard as she grinded against his tongue. Swiped her clit against his nose. Dipped his tongue into her cunt to taste her. Dragged his nails over her ass, slapped her buttocks to make her shout in surprise.
His face was a mess. She moved faster, erratic, her thighs tensing, pressing against his face. Marianne tasted like dry Alsatian Riesling. Ludwig grabbed his cock in a loose grip, wanting something to ease the pressure, if only for a second. He was going to lose his mind over her before she’d give him the chance to come.
“You’re so good at this, Ludwig.” She sounded dazed . “You’re going to make me come again, I’m so close.”
He focused on licking and sucking on her clit until he felt the muscles in her core spasming and clenching, until she moaned, low and throaty. Marianne rode out the waves of her orgasm until she almost fell off him and landed on the bed with a woosh.
Ludwig wiped her taste off his lips, wiped his chin and cheeks of excess moisture and sat up to look at her. Marianne’s eyes were closed but her brows were furrowed and she was catching her breath with big gulps of air. She swallowed deeply. There was a fine sheet of sweat on her body, and when he touched the dips between her ribs, a shiver went through her. Blonde eyelashes fluttered open, and Marianne smiled at him.
“That was so fun . I feel like I should thank you for the ride.”
“Pff, you’re welcome.” He snorted a laugh and grabbed her by the ankle. Marianne yelped when he pulled her towards him, leg resting on his shoulder, a kiss against the side of her knee. “Can I fuck you now, or am I supposed to work for it more?”
Marianne gasped when she felt the head of his cock rubbing against her entrance, not pushing inside yet but catching against her labia.
“Hah, Herr Beilschmidt , that’s so forward of you,” she teased, grabbing at the sheets next to her head, biting her lower lip and looking at him with her pupils blown dark and sultry. “Just for that, I should punish you somehow.” Her back arched and she kept teasing herself against him.
Ludwig felt like bashing his own head against the wall, his whole body rigid, want and frustration and a desperate surge of affection rushing through him.
He wanted to fuck her.
But Marianne wanted to play, so he supposed he had to play the same game with her. He bit the side of her leg to swallow his embarrassment and countered, “Haven’t I been good until now? Don’t I deserve to have you?”
“ Ah – maybe. Do you know what I want?”
“What do you want, Marianne?” he asked, closing his eyes and resting his forehead against her knee.
She took him by the wrist and brought his fingers to her mouth, nipped at the pads of his fingers and then guided his palm against her throat.
“I want you to fuck me until it hurts and I can’t come anymore.”
“I can do that.” He started pushing inside of her slowly, centimeter by centimeter, so Marianne could enjoy the sensation of being filled up by him. “I won’t stop until you tell me to.” Once he was completely inside her, a shudder rocked his core and she gasped underneath him.
When Ludwig started moving, it was slow, because he wanted to enjoy the tight drag of her around his cock. With her leg over his shoulder like that, there was no room for her to move, Marianne could do little more than lay there and moan.
“Fuck, that’s so deep.” Her lips were pulled into a pleased smile, eyes closed and head pulled back. “You feel so huge. Please fuck me faster.” How was he supposed to refuse when she said please ?
“Marianne, look at me.” He cradled her jaw and kept her head still, refused to admit to himself that his voice sounded so raw and hungry.
“Do you want me to look at you while you fuck me?” The question came out breathless and cut through with moans, but challenging and teasing, amused. He thrusted into her harder to make her gasp. “Do you want me to say, Ludwig, your cock’s the biggest, no one fucks me like you do ?” She said it in German, too.
He slammed into her so she would shut up, too busy making needy, pleasured sounds to talk anymore. It took very little to get her thrashing and pulsating around his dick, coming undone beautifully before him. Ludwig slowed down, stopped thrusting until her muscles stopped contracting, let her enjoy the fullness while her hips rocked gently.
Marianne blinked quickly, hazy and happy. Slid her leg off his shoulder and around his waist, opened her arms to him in a silent request to pick her up.
“More?” she asked him sweetly, arms around his neck, settled in his lap, chest to chest and sharing the same breath.
“You’re insatiable,” he said, struggling to focus on anything else, think of motor engines and numbers and the economy, anything that wasn’t Marianne’s cunt and the slow, grinding rhythm of her hips rolling in his lap.
“So I’ve been told,” she said with a breathless laugh, deliberately squeezing him inside. “Most men can’t keep up with it, but you seem to be doing alright.” She pushed him on the bed again and towered over him. “Hold still, let me…”
Ludwig was certain this qualified as some sort of unnatural torture, to be forced to look up at a beautiful woman whowas touching herself in his lap, while his cock was inside her, but she wasn’t moving anymore, she wasn’t moving at all .
“Marianne, what are you…?”
“ Shhh , I can do this part myself.”
It would have been very easy to push her down and fuck her as hard as he wanted to, find the release he was craving inside her body and… ah, but that would be breaking the rules of the game, and if Marianne wanted to torture him, he wanted to let himself get tortured by her as well. So he lay there, helplessly looking up at Marianne, his nails digging in her flesh, teeth biting his own lips, eyes roaming over her sweaty body while she squeezed him and chased her pleasure without asking for his help.
Marianne took his hand and pressed it against her breast, only to ask, “Can you slap me again? Here?” So he did, slapped her tits and made them bounce together and she arched her back and roared in pleasure. He did it again, and again, until she started grinding helplessly in his lap, until she shuddered and fell over his chest, and… and…
There was a feeling in the pit of his stomach, a knot of emotions that tugged at him in so many places – the frustration and jealousy and anger, the impossible affection and burning lust, all of it glazed over and swelling with pride, pride , the luxurious, honey-coated, rolling and boiling and bubbling over - pride . The I have you and the I’m not letting you go and the I don’t want anyone else to make you come again.
Ludwig rolled her off him and she went easily, lay on her stomach over the damp, wrinkled sheets and he fucked into her from behind, pressed his chest against her back and put his hand against her throat. Marianne was so wet he slipped out of her, and she whined and said, “please put it back inside me. ”
What if you’re being too rough ? he asked himself, but Marianne was mumbling things in French, gasping and mewling, needy and desperate and the best thing he ever heard in his life. He kept the same brutal pace until she came again screaming, right through the gushing wetness of her orgasm, until she yelled, “ fuck, that hurts, don’t stop, that’s perfect, don’t stop, don’t stop” until her eyes rolled and she went slack in his arms.
Ludwig felt like a god.
“I can’t… I can’t .” She struggled with her words, and when she realized she was mumbling, Marianne started laughing desperately. Ludwig felt the vibrations of it, her laughter through his body, echoing through his bones, “I can’t anymore, you can stop, mission achieved.”
Ludwig sighed, pressed open-mouthed kisses against her cheek, the throbbing veins in her neck, the crock of her shoulder. He slipped out of her, rolled on his side next to Marianne and wrapped his hand around his cock to finish himself off.
“What are you doing?” she asked, looking at him with her eyes overly big and wet. There were tear tracks around the corners of her eyes, and against his better judgement he found it hot .
“I wanted to come too after that,” he answered, feeling stupid for saying it, and not understanding the confusion written plainly on her face.
“ Oh. ”
“You said you were done.”
“Yes, but I…” She rolled on her side to face him, opened her trembling hands to him and said, “Come back, I want you to come inside me.”
“But you said…”
“I want you to finish inside me– come here .”
Marianne hissed through clenched teeth when he slipped inside her again, brimming with hopeless, helpless affection, grateful and protective and all those dangerous, soft things that had no business between them.
“ Does it hurt, Süße ?” he asked her, without filtering languages or emotions out of his head. Marianne looked at him strangely, too fond and too warm and too much, cradled the back of his head and pulled him into her. Ludwig was sure he was going to drown inside whatever it was he saw in the depths of her blue eyes.
“Yes, but I can take it, I want you to, I… ah – ”
He kissed her, lips slipping over each other, tongue licking into her mouth, kissed her like he wanted to kiss her since he saw her on the tarmac. Ludwig kissed her, and kissed her and kissed her, and made love to her, and rocked into her gently because he didn’t want to hurt her, savored the way her thighs trembled around his waist and her arms held him close.
Ludwig was certain he was coming apart bit by bit with each thrust, breaking up into pieces as he finished inside her and fell on top of her body. He wasn’t sure where he ended and Marianne started anymore, felt too close to her and not close enough, and the bubble of emotions in his chest burst open and spilled into his bloodstream.
When he caught his breath, he got up on his elbows and looked down at her with a slight panic, unsure of what he was going to see – maybe he had hurt her, maybe she was uncomfortable, maybe she didn’t want him so close afterwards, maybe he had misjudged something, maybe it was too intimate when both of them agreed …
But Marianne smiled at him and ran her hand through his hair, pushed it out of his eyes, ran her fingertips over his eyelids, soothing and gentle, cupped his cheek. Ludwig turned his head and pressed a kiss on her open palm.
“I can’t get up,” Marianne told him when he said they both needed to shower up before going to bed. It would be too easy to fall into the trap of sleep, but Ludwig felt they were both disgustingly sticky and his sheets were gross.
“I’m not letting you sleep in my bed like that . Come on, the sooner we get you clean, the sooner you can go to sleep.”
“But my legs are still shaking, Schantz ,” she told him with all this fake sweetness written all over her face, eyelashes fluttering innocently “I can’t move on my own. You’ll have to carry me if you want to get me into the shower.”
He knew a challenge when he heard one, and normally he wasn’t the type to give into something so childish. However, in this case, there were special circumstances to be had and Ludwig felt something he hadn’t in a long, long time – playful . Instead of arguing with Marianne, he walked over to her side of the bed, put an arm around her shoulders and the other beneath her knees, picked her up smoothly while she laughed and held onto him.
“I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Yes, you were . Did you think I wouldn’t be able to carry you?”
Ludwig took her to the bathroom and set her feet down in the tub, climbed in with her and picked up the showerhead to wet her hair. Marianne kept holding on to him, melted against his chest when he started to shampoo her hair and scrub her back. There was a soft sigh of pleasure when warm water ran over her body.
It was so strange – Ludwig had no idea what he was supposed to do with this sweet, needy woman who hummed in the shower while he helped her clean up.
“Turn around,” he told her, and she pressed her hands against the tile, and turned to look at him over her shoulder.
“Like this?” Marianne’s lower back curved, and she smiled at him. Evil . A soul sucking succubus, yes, but a very charming one at that, and Ludwig put his arm over her collarbone and pulled her into him, pressed his chest across her back and kissed her wet temple.
“Like that, yes.” Shower head in one hand, he brought it in front of her groin and said, “Open your legs, please.” The hand over her collar went around, pressed against the back of her neck, dragged over her spine, slapped her ass again for good measure.
There was semen between her thighs, sticky , and he put the showerhead over her labia. Ran a finger over the crack of her ass, went lower, dipped inside her again. Twisted them slowly.
“What are you doing ?” she asked, dragging out the last words, eyes rolling slightly as he pressed the shower head over her clitoris, fingers crooking inside her.
“Do you think you can come for me again, Süße? Just like this?” Ludwig kissed her reddening cheek.
“I don’t… I… hah. Maybe?”
“I think you can .” He felt so powerful. “Let’s try.”
“Yes, yes, yes, Ludwig, yes .”
The word echoed around the walls of his bathroom, into his house, into his head. Yes, you can make me come again. Yes, you can fuck me. Yes, you can have me. Yes, yes, yes. Yes, I’ll have you, yes, I’ll keep you, I’ll give you whatever you want.
Marianne fell asleep in his arms, and when he had to wake her up in the morning, she refused to open her eyes and nuzzled into his chest.
“ Je ne veux pas .”
It was too early for his mind to process to French and his pronunciation wasn’t the best at any point, but he still felt like he had to try.
“You have to wake up, Marianne, we need to get ready for work.”
“Work can fuck off, I want to spend the day in bed.”
It took him a second to make sense of the translation, but then he couldn’t help but wonder what that would be like – some sort of alternate universe in which that was a possibility. Ludwig wasn’t sure if there was ever a time in which he comfortably lazed around in bed all day. When he was a child, that sort of idleness was greatly frowned upon, both by sister and his superiors. Once he got older, there was never time for that sort of thing, as there was always too much to do. His mind wouldn’t allow him to rest, not when he knew about the whole list of responsibilities that were waiting for him.
Marianne shuffled closer to him, as if she could hide away in his arms and ignore him at the same time.
“ I’ll let you sleep in during the weekend .”
“This is not a negotiation, and I don’t believe you would anyway.” With that, Marianne opened her eyes and yawned deeply, crawled out of bed with the sort of energy that one expected from an octogenarian. Then, she looked out at the bedside table clock and smacked his arm. “It’s so early. You woke me up two hours earlier than we should, what are you thinking?”
“Don’t you want me to take you back to your hotel to get dressed first? I don’t have any women’s clothes that you can borrow, and I don’t think you want to go into work with the same clothes you wore yesterday.”
“You make a good point, Herr Beilschmidt.” Then, she yawned again, stretching her back. She had worn one of Ludwig’s shirts to bed, and as she stretched and it pulled up over her ass, he noticed the light bruises on her buttocks and thighs, highlighted by the marks his mouth had made on her the night before. Ludwig wanted to touch those bruises and poke at them, and then he scolded himself for being an overly horny bastard.
He made her coffee and buttered her toast and set it in front of her. He didn’t think much of it, as it seemed natural to do so, but Marianne picked up her buttered bread and eyed it suspiciously.
“You buttered my toast.”
“Hmmm – do you want cherry preserve or blackberry?” he asked, holding up two jars for her to pick.
“Cherry, please.” She held out her hand, and looked at the jar of cherry preserve like it was either full of gold or poison, or some combination of both. “It’s been a very long time since I’ve had breakfast like this with someone.” That made Ludwig pause. Next to him, Marianne was munching away at her cherry toast, the warm glow of a smile tugging at her mouth and her sleepy face.
He wanted to tell her that they could have breakfast together properly tomorrow, as well, if they weren’t in a rush. Wake up a little later and make scrambled eggs. Knock elbows together while moving around the kitchen. There was a pleasant silence between them, though, and he didn’t want to ruin it by talking about domestic things.
Afterwards, he drove her to her hotel and Marianne asked him to join her upstairs.
“There’s no point in waiting here, you can come up while I get dressed. Help me pick out a dress, then we can go.”
So he sat on the untouched, pristine sheets of a bed that was put together by room service, and watched Marianne as she puttered about the room. She sat in front of the vanity mirror, wearing a slinky nightgown while she did her make-up and ran a brush through her hair. Marianne put on small mother of pearl earrings and asked him for help to put on a delicate little necklace.
“I’m not very good with delicate things like that,” he countered, but Marianne pulled her hair over her shoulder and insisted.
“Come here and help me put on my necklace.” So Ludwig crouched next to the vanity seat and clasped the gold chain around her neck, looked at the two of them in the mirror’s reflection and met Marianne’s fond gaze. “I think we make a very beautiful couple, don’t you agree?” She teased him with a wink, before turning towards him and running her elegant fingers over his hair. Marianne had long nails, and feeling them running over his scalp sent a shiver through him. “Can you pick out a dress for me?”
“Pick out a dress for you? What sort of dress?”
“Whichever one you like. I hung all of them in the closet – you just need to pick a dress I could wear for the day.”
There weren’t really that many options for him to choose from, but out of all them, one stood out – a royal blue dress, fabric with a sheen. Ludwig always enjoyed the way Marianne moved, liked to see her in those fabrics that swished around her legs and flowed around her as she walked. He picked the blue dress because he wanted to see how the flowy skirt’s fabric would gather between her legs.
“Oh, that’s an interesting choice,” Marianne said as she took the dress from Ludwig. She slipped out of her robe and put on the dress, turned around, showed him her exposed back with the long zipper open. “Why did you pick this one?”
“I always thought you looked beautiful in this shade of blue,” he told her plainly. Not the reason, but one of them.
“And here I hoped it was because of how low-cut the V neck is.” His knuckles dragged over Marianne’s skin as he pulled up the zipper, slowly , so that the delicate material wouldn’t snag.
“I didn’t notice how low cut it was.” He wanted to step away from her, but didn’t. Instead, his hand lingered on her back, on the curve of her waist. The material of her dress was soft and fluid, when he touched her it felt like warm water underneath his fingers.
Marianne turned to look at him over her shoulder – she wasn’t wearing her heels, so she had to look up to make eye contact with him through her heavy eyelashes. Leaned back against his chest and sighed.
“What time is it? Do we have to hurry?” His hand went around her waist.
“No, we still have some time to get there.”
“Hmmmm.” Marianne’s ass pushed back against his crotch. “So we can be quick about it.”
Ludwig ended up fucking her from behind, bent over the vanity table, with her royal blue dress pulled up just enough to expose her, her panties around her knees, hands on the table, her panting breath fogging up the mirror. Marianne was sopping as soon as he touched her, welcoming and intoxicating and tight. As an experiment - his hand in her hair and gripped , like she told him to last night, pulled her head back and made her spine arch.
There was sunlight streaming through the window and the shiny fabric of her dress caught the light, waves and ripples of blue as he moved inside of her.
Marianne came before he did and dropped to her knees in front of him. She finished him off with her mouth and swallowed, then kissed him so he couldn’t escape the taste.
“Can you pick up my bag, please?”
“Your bag? Which bag?”
“Oh, the one I prepared on the bed – I thought I might spend the night with you again, so It makes sense to get clothes for tomorrow morning, right? We still have a couple of days to spend together, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t sleep in at least one morning.”
“If you don’t want me to sleep over….”
“No, no, that’s fine. I’ll take your bag with us.”
Tomorrow they would be making the big Franco-German Marriage Announcement, and the reality of it crashed on top of Germany’s head.
His assistant, the one that had spent the better part of yesterday gazing longingly at France and sighing whenever she smiled and flirted – that assistant caught Germany as he was gazing after Marianne’s retreating back and cleared her throat.
“Yes? What is it, Hilda?”
“I wanted to confirm that we’re on schedule with everything for today, and that we’ve gotten positive feedback for tomorrow’s press conference with all the respective media outlets.”
“Ah, thank you. Is there anything else?”
“No, sir, nothing else. I simply wanted to…” There was a pause in which she looked down at her feet, before taking a deep breath and looking back at him. “If it’s not too forward of me, I wanted to congratulate you on the upcoming wedding. Everyone in the office is talking about it, and while it’s not official yet, we’ve heard the discussion and…” Hilda smiled at him happily. “It’s good, isn’t it?”
“I suppose, yes. Marianne and I will be making it our ongoing commitment to peace and cooperation.”
“Ah, I understand. What better way to teach people than to lead by example? And, if I may say – Frau Bonnefoy is lovely .”
He couldn’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the day. During their meetings, he lost focus not once, but twice , and both times he was – thinking . About things he never thought about before, about the palpable happiness and hope that he heard in Hilda’s voice, about the potential that people were allowing themselves to feel whenever they spoke about peace and about building a future based on peace between the two of them.
There were so many expectations .
There was also a twisting, gnawing sensation in the pit of his stomach whenever he poked at that mess of emotions, so he didn’t. Ludwig swallowed it away. Maybe sometime next week he’d be alone again and then he could take it out, inspect it and come to terms with it, unravel each string of feeling and make sense of them.
France caught his eye from across the meeting room and winked at him. Embarrassed at being caught off guard, he struggled to keep his mind focused and sharp while time passed, until the meeting was over and Marianne walked over to him and asked him if he wanted to join her for a smoke.
They didn’t say anything to each other until they were outside. France sat down on a bench and lit up a cigarette, tapped the empty spot next to her. Germany sighed, told himself it would be pointless to resist her when there was a bag of her clothes in his car and marks from his hands on her ass. He took his place next to her and she came closer, arms brushing together, thighs touching.
Marianne’s proximity made him relax, the smell of her and comfortable intimacy of sharing each other’s space soothed some untouchable part of him.
“What’s on your mind, Ludwig?” she asked him, and rested her head on his shoulder.
“It’s nothing. I was simply thinking about tomorrow.”
“Being officially engaged for all the world to see. I wonder how big of a scandal it’s going to be when it ends up in the news.” France wrapped her arm around his bicep. “ Mon Dieu , can you imagine how it’s going to be then? When it reaches the American press, or the British tabloids?”
“Horrible. It’s going to be an incredible headache.”
“It will .” Laughing, Marianne threw away her cigarette butt and laced her fingers through his. She held his hand and pressed a quick kiss on the side of his jaw. “Worried?”
“Yes.” Germany sighed, and squeezed her hand. Turned to her. “You?”
“Of course I’m worried. There’s a million things that we need to account for, then there’s the actual wedding . Weddings are always a damn mess, you know. Do you know, when Austria and Hungary got married – ”
“Oh, please don’t….”
“Oh, yes! I was on guard duty, to keep your sister out of trouble. We got drunk – so drunk, Ludwig, we got so drunk on all that Hungarian Palinka. It was fun.” Marianne’s laugh faded and settled into a soft, far off smile. “Or at least, it was for me. It may have broken your sister’s heart, to see Austria and Hungary getting married.”
Ludwig knew. Ludwig knew very well. Julia’s heartbreaks were things she hid ever so competently, but he saw them for what they were, in those moments when she thought he wasn’t paying attention.
“Are you getting cold feet, mon cheri ?” Marianne asked. She let go of his hand and pulled away from him slightly, maybe because she wanted to give him space, let him answer without feeling the pressure of her settling in his skin.
Germany turned to look at her, at the stubborn line of her brow, the curve of her face.
“ No ,” he answered. After the word came out of his mouth, he surprised himself by realizing that he actually, genuinely meant it. France smiled at him and nodded, looking smug and pleased with herself. Ludwig should have left it at that, he should have, but…
“What about you? Do you still want to get married?”
“Ah, Herr Beilschimdt, are you worried I’ll leave you at the altar?” Marianne grinned at him like a shark that felt the smell of blood in the water.
“ No , that’s not…” He realized she was teasing, but there was still that fluster in him that he hadn’t gotten over yet. “Please don’t joke about that. It would be such a mess.”
“Relax, Ludwig, I’m not going to run away and cause a scene in public, I promise.” She put her chin on his shoulder and blew air against the shell of his ear. “The answer is yes, by the way.”
She settled against his side again, comfortable.
One night, when he had been in Paris, during the war – Marianne burst into his office, door banging against the wall. He looked up, startled and annoyed, because everyone knew better than to barge in on him like that, but his eyes widened when he saw her.
Earlier that evening, he’d seen her at the Officers’ Ball. Marianne had been wearing a bright red dress with a slit on the side, and her hair had been pulled back into a severe chignon. Now, her dress looked as if it had been torn at the side-seam, over her thigh, and her hair had come unraveled. She went straight for him and braced her arms against his chest.
Before Germany even had the chance to properly formulate a response, there were officers hastily stopping right outside his door and saluting him with unreadable looks on their faces.
“ Herr Beilschmidt ,” she started, her nails digging into the black fabric of his uniform, “your men didn’t know I’m your companion.” Voice loud enough for his officers to hear. Marianne was shorter than when he had waltzed with her earlier that night, and he realized it was because she was no longer wearing her heeled shoes. “Please inform them that I’m supposed to be spending the evening with you.”
But she wasn’t. Shouldn’t . Marianne had brushed him off after they danced and had a drink together. Disappeared in the crowd. Ludwig had not pursued her.
So the fact that she was barging in on him and demanding he should vouch for her, all the while with German officers pursuing her and looking ready to arrest her – there was no good reason for this happening. There was no scenario in which this ended well.
Marianne’s nails pushed into the fabric of his shirt, gripped , looked at him with the low burning rage that he remembered from Versailles, from seeing her across the negotiating table while his whole body hurt. Back then, he thought Marianne was a vengeful goddess of old, come down to strike him for his transgressions against her.
The ferocity took him by surprise, and Ludwig hesitated. Marianne’s mouth twitched.
And with that her stability faltered, she leaned forward and instinctively his arms went around her back so she wouldn’t fall. It was only a moment later when he realized that the gesture looked possessive , that it made her pursuers uncomfortable to know they had been chasing his presumed lover. They apologized profusely when he dismissed them.
When the door closed, France’s whole body seemed to relax, and she sat down heavily on the leather armchair that was reserved for higher-ups. There was a chuckle from her that turned into a laugh.
Ludwig turned to look at her and noticed now torn her dress was, how her ankle was swollen, bruised and blue and painful, and her bare toes were dirty and scraped. Marianne had bright, splotchy spots of red on her cheeks and her laughing mouth full of teeth, sharp and daring.
“Your ankle looks broken,” Ludwig said.
“It probably is.”
Someone had sent him champagne, and while he wasn’t a drinker, apparently it was useful to have it. Ludwig pulled out the unopened champagne bottle out of the ice bucket and knelt in front of Marianne. He lifted her leg from the floor, kept his hand on her calf, pressed the cold bottle against her injured ankle and he – he wondered . What was he supposed to do here?
“If I ask you about what happened – will you answer me?”
Marianne smirked at him and shrugged.
“I’ll give you an answer, yes. It depends if you want to hear it or not.”
“Will it be honest?”
“That will be for you to determine.”
Silence settled between them. If he asked about it – Marianne would either tell him the truth, or she would lie. The possibility of being lied to settled hot and oily in his stomach. However, if she told him the truth – there was no doubt in his mind that she was committing some sort of treason.
“Do you hate me?”
The question took her by surprise, and Marianne snorted an inelegant laugh at that.
“Does it matter?”
Ludwig moved the cold champagne bottle around her ankle and she winced. The broken bone started healing and mended back together in his hand.
“No, I suppose it doesn’t.”
There was a scar around Marianne’s neck, a thin straight line that went around her neck. From the French Revolution, he knew that, from when the French people snatched her away from her gilded cage in Versailles and tried to make her anew. Behead her and hope that that she could come back different, that she would die and come be reborn. Morbid fascination made his fingers curious and tingly, and he wanted to run his fingertips over that scar, to feel it. He didn’t, but the wish was there, the desire. Once it settled it never went away.
She leaned in close.
“Why do you ask me stupid questions then, darling?”
Marianne Bonnefoy fell asleep on his couch. Deeply, completely asleep.
They went home together again, and France had told him, “ I just want to rest my feet a little, can you get started on dinner? ” and she had taken off her shoes and put her feet up on the armrest, and she had promptly fallen asleep, dress and jewelry and all. Ludwig had started to make dinner and then he went to check on her and found her snoring slightly on his couch, face pressed against the decorative pillow.
It wasn’t even dark outside yet, but when Ludwig looked at her sleeping face, he couldn’t find it in himself to wake her up. I’ll just let her nap for a while, he thought, and covered her with a blanket. Made dinner and left in the oven. Periodically, he went to the living room and sat on the armchair next to the sofa and didn’t dare start up the TV. He looked at Marianne’s sleeping face and thought – I should wake her up , but then she sighed in her sleep and he didn’t have the heart to do it.
There was a special kind of vulnerability to falling asleep in someone else’s presence while they were wide awake. It made something in his chest swell.
Ludwig told himself he was being overly sentimental for nothing, and he went to his home office, confident that he could be productive and work on some of the paperwork he brought home with him. There was always something that needed his attention, and he might as well get a head start on it. It might even be soothing – a very well-established routine that worked well to ease his nerves, considering tomorrow would be an exhausting day.
Ludwig was about an hour into signing papers when he heard something crash and bang in his living room. He went to check what happened, only for France to run past him and into the bathroom down the hall. Frowning at her concerning behavior, he went to knock on the door.
“Marianne? Are you alright?”
“Fine,” but he heard the lock on the door sliding into place and the shower starting. “I’ll be out in a minute, alright?”
Germany felt unease rumbling in his stomach, but he wasn’t going to push her for something she didn’t want to offer.
It’s not your business to take care of her, is it?
“I’ll be in the office, alright?” he called to her, without waiting for a response that didn’t come.
It was about half an hour later when she came into his office, wearing a chemise as a nightgown. Germany wondered what century that piece of clothing was from; what servants had sewn it for her. Marianne’s skin was scrubbed pink and she was radiating warmth, as if she had tried to boil off her skin in the shower and scrub herself raw.
She didn’t say anything at Ludwig for a few moments, so he inspected her curling wet hair and the soft slope of her shoulders, and wondered what he was supposed to do with her.
“Do you have any chocolate?” Marianne asked him suddenly.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Chocolate. I want chocolate.”
And Ludwig didn’t expect that, but at least he could provide it – he got up from his seat and walked over to the sideboard, opened it and presented her with the stash of chocolate he had – boxes of Mozartkugel along with the classic stack of Manner Wafers Austria sent him every month, the tin box of Baci Perugina chocolates Italy had sent for his birthday, the square bars of Ritter Sport chocolate he sometimes bought for himself but rarely indulged in anymore.
Marianne crouched in front of the sideboard and inspected all the various types of chocolate he had there, before picking up a Ritter bar and opening it up. She bit off a chocolate square while still inspecting all the other things, and ultimately decided to take out a box of Mozartkugel too. She sat on the armchair next to Ludwig’s desk and ate the whole chocolate bar without offering to share it with him once, and when she was finished with it and Ludwig thought she couldn’t possibly want more, Marianne glared at Austria’s Mozartkugeln and opened up the box without care.
Germany stared at her as she bit into chocolate ball after chocolate ball with fascination, thinking she was going to be sick any moment because of the amount of rich sugars. Finally when she was done, half of the Mozart chocolates were gone and Marianne disappeared into the hallway, only to return about a minute later with an open bottle of beer in her hand.
By this point, Ludwig felt like he had been sucked into some alternate dimension in which things were all misaligned, because the Marianne he knew took dainty little bites out of delicate, pastel colored macarons and she never, ever, ever drank his beer.
“Are you alright?”
“As alright as I always am,” she answered with a shrug. “I had a nightmare.”
“The war. A war . Or a revolution, maybe, I’m not quite sure.” Marianne laughed before putting the bottle of Paulaner to her lips and drinking in big gulps. “It’s all the same, really. All the wars and all the revolutions and the executions. After a while, they blur together.”
She got up from her seat and walked over to his desk. Marianne set down the bottle on his desk, much too close to his paperwork, and then she leaned over his desk to look him in the eyes.
“Hmmm, what do you have nightmares about, Süßer ? The trenches? Or Alfred making you choke on mud during the Ardennenoffensive? ” The curve of her mouth was biting and cruel.
“I don’t want to talk about this,” he answered, feeling his throat close up and realizing that whatever mood she was in, it was bloodthirsty and merciless and it wanted to go for his jugular.
“No, I don’t think that’s it.” Her eyes shone. “Do you want to know what I think? I think you dream of yourself in that fancy black uniform of yours, patrolling the grounds at Dachau with your shiny boots and struggling to convince yourself you’re not a monster for it.”
“ Stop .” His hands gripped the edges of his desk, wood digging painfully into his palms and relishing in the slight bite of it. Marianne looked at him with interest, head tilting to the side in what looked like a mixture of academic curiosity and gleeful sadism. It sent his blood aflame. “Why must you constantly pour salt into bleeding wounds?”
Germany didn’t want to tell her – about his own nightmares and the things that kept him up at night, the guilt that choked him in random moments without knowing how he was supposed to process any of the things that he’d done, and the ones that had been done in his name.
Marianne’s brow furrowed. Her eyes were bright in the darkly-lit office. The table lamp he kept on wasn’t powerful enough to light up her face, so she was a mess of shadows and highlights, teeth sharp as she laughed, bitter and delirious and half-mad. And even like that, she was beautiful, she was always beautiful.
“Oh, Ludwig. Sometimes I think there’s a river of blood in my head and an avalanche of corpses. If I don’t speak of it, I’m sure I would suffocate there.” Marianne ran a hand through her hair roughly and laced her fingers behind her head, eyes closed.
“Did Italy ever tell you what Rome would do to all the barbarian princesses that he captured? No, I don’t think he ever did. I don’t think he even knew, or maybe he just refused to believe it. But I remember Rome’s true face, I remember how he was.” She took a breath and exhaled it slowly, trembling. “I remember how he dealt with things . Rotten old man he was, spent all his time intoxicated on one substance or another, fucking all his pretty little slave girls one after the other. And then when I was older, I understood why . Because it all hurt, all the time, he was always hurting.”
There was silence between them after that, thick and heavy and murky. Like mud in the trenches.
Marianne then turned to him sharply and walked around his desk. Unlaced her chemise and let it drop to the floor. Naked, she leaned against his chair, put a hand over his shoulder. Her breasts hung heavily, round and full and exactly in front of his face, making it hard to focus on her face.
“What are you doing, Marianne?”
“What does it look like I’m doing? Take me to bed, Ludwig, I’ve had enough of talking,” she said, eyes rolling and sitting her bare ass on his freshly signed documents. “Do you want to talk about our unprocessed trauma? Should we pretend it’s not there and play cards?”
Marianne raised her legs and opened them up, put them on the armrests of his chair and bracketed him between them.
“How does sex solve it?”
“It doesn’t. But at least it’s better than the alternative, and my mood is rotten. And I don’t think your mood is exceptional either, so we might as well self-medicate.”
Ludwig put a hand on the inside of her knee and dragged it up her thigh, pressed a finger against a round suck mark he’d left there the previous evening.
“Is that what we’re doing?”
“We might as well have some fun while we’re doing this, Ludwig.”
His mind wasn’t settled on fun. To be honest, he wasn’t sure what his mind was settled on, other than the fact that Marianne’s words had the very precise talent of sending it into very dark places, while her body was soft, inviting and open. Maybe she was right and they didn’t need to talk at all, not when it was so much easier to just kiss and touch and fuck each other.
Mind made up, Ludwig sat up from his chair to tower over her. He grabbed her by the thighs and pulled her forward. Breath hitching, Marianne embraced him, legs went around his middle
“We’re not fucking on my paperwork,” he told her, thumbs pressing into her flesh.
“Tsk, why not?” she asked with a smirk, leaned forward until her mouth was right in front of his. “Are you going to carry me to bed, then? Like this ?”
Ludwig didn’t dignify that with an answer, but he put an arm around her back to secure his grip, and the other he used to hoist her up from her bottom. Marianne gasped, amused, and arms fastened around his neck.
“Please take care not to drop me!” she laughed as she was holding onto him.
“I can carry you around just fine, Marianne, I won’t drop you.”
He didn’t tell her he thought it was… cute, how much she liked being carried around. Ludwig wondered about it – was it because she enjoyed being pampered, or because she liked the loss of control? Whatever it was, though, he didn’t mind doing it. France was small enough to carry around easily, barely a challenge at all, and he liked it when she clung to him.
It was certainly better than when she taunted him, when she laughed in his face and reminded him about all the things he could never get away from.
When they got to the bedroom, Ludwig lowered her on his bed, pressed a kiss to her cheek before straightening. He wanted to undress himself, though Marianne was quicker, hands going to his belt and pulling it out of its loops. However, instead of letting it drop to the floor, Marianne folded it in the middle to create a loop, then she wiggled it in front of his face.
“Ludwig, you know what I want?” she asked him with a smirk, smacking herself lightly with his belt over her thigh. Marianne held it out to him afterwards, and while he was a tad reluctant, he picked it up nonetheless.
“Won’t this hurt? Your skin’s already bruised from yesterday,” he asked, realizing how stupid the question sounded in the first place. The point was to hurt , but he wasn’t completely certain why.
“ You realize I could very easily make my bruises go away, right? I don’t , because I like pain, Ludwig, and I enjoy feeling my bruises sting when I’m sitting in a meeting the next day.” Marianne turned around, on her knees, bending over and presenting her ass to him. “You know, I’ll tell you stop when it gets too much.”
“What else?” he asked, his hand caressing over her soft, rounded flesh. Ludwig wanted to understand this, this aspect of her personality. If sex was the only real thing they clicked on, might as well have the best sex possible, might as well understand what made this sort of thing appealing to her so he could deliver in full.
In the end, it was a process, wasn’t it? A project. And Marianne wanted to understand him too, didn’t she? She wouldn’t push and probe at his sanity so much if she weren’t curious about him.
“I enjoy feeling helpless and the lack of control and being at someone’s mercy. And I like trusting someone with hurting me just enough for it to feel good. ” She smirked and stole a glance at him, her cheek pressed against the sheets. “I like being punished for being naughty, too.”
Most of his instincts screamed against it. There were very specific rules men were supposed to have, especially men like him that were so big – they were supposed to protect women and take care of them, as opposed to belting them and leaving bruises on their skin. Marianne, however – he couldn’t stop thinking about how wet she had gotten when he spanked her.
And Ludwig was curious about her too, and he wanted to please her and keep her satisfied. So if this was what she wanted, Ludwig wanted to give it to her.
There was a loud smacking crack, followed by a sharp, hissing breath. He tried it again, and again, and again, each time there was the loud, smacking crack of his leather belt against Marianne’s ass, followed by her sharp, hissing breath, by a moan, by a wiggle. Squirming . Panting. It was satisfying, though, the sound of that crack.
“Is this how I’m supposed to punish you ?” he asked her, and smacked his belt against her flesh. “It doesn’t seem fair – you seem to be enjoying it too much.”
“Hah, maybe you should go harder, then.” He heard the smirk in her voice, and thoroughly amused at how she kept teasing him, Ludwig put more force into his next blow. Marianne gasped, he kept the same intensity then, harder and faster. Red lines appearing on her skin.
“Tell me how it feels,” he demanded. “Does it hurt?”
“ Yes ,” she hissed, but instead of the next blow, Ludwig ran a finger over her folds.
“But look how wet you are.” Smack . “Tell me again – how does it feel?”
“It hurts so good,” Marianne’s fists were grabbing onto his sheets, moaning into them, “ I need -”
“What do you need?” he asked, the tip of his finger dipping inside her and pressing downwards, catching against her entrance. Marianne tried to push herself against the pressure, but Ludwig pulled his hand away and hit the belt against her thigh again.
One thing that Ludwig always took pride in was his professionalism and his thoroughness on whatever job was at hand. It came from his upbringing, from Prussia’s instructions, from the military precision that everyone struggled to install in him throughout his life – it meant everything had to be taken care of, no slacking, be serious, follow the rules and the instructions.
So Marianne should have known from the start, that if she asked him for something, he would deliver on it.
She squirmed and babbled something that Ludwig didn’t catch.
“I didn’t hear you.” Smack, crack, gasp . “You need to speak up, so I’ll ask you again.” Smack, crack, moan. “ What do you need?”
“I need you – ” Marianne said, and it went to his head like the first cigar he ever smoked, head swimming with the thrill of it. “I need you, I need you to make me come.”
“Hmmm, I can do that,” he said, dropped the belt and knelt on the bed behind her. His hands against her hips were big and so much rougher than her skin, but it was so very easy to grab her and pull her towards his face. Put his open mouth against her cunt, close his lips around her and suck.
Marianne bucked like some sort of wild animal when he did it, so Ludwig put his forearm over her small of her back and pressed down, made her arch forcefully and immobilized her. Marianne said it herself – that she liked feeling helpless, enjoyed having her control taken away from her. That was something Ludwig could give her easily; he could hold her down and eat her out until she sobbed from it, and then throw her against the sheets and fuck her until she forgot how to string sentences together.
And he loved it too, how she was so honest with her body and her pleasure, how she asked him for things and told him what she needed. And the power of it too, being entrusted with this willing submission. How insatiable she was and how she challenged him and pushed him and made him want to please her beyond what he knew, discover more ways to get her off.
If their relationship was this – beyond the contracts and the clauses, the diplomacy, the meetings, beyond the politics of it– if they reduced all the equations and the berth and scope of what they were, and brought it down to Marianne and Ludwig – then, he wanted to make it worth it, make it count .
He licked her and slurped, a mixture of saliva and Marianne’s moisture dripping over his lips. She chanted his name, over and over and over, stumbling over the consonants of it and dragging the vowels, ‘ Ludwig, Ludwig, Ludwig, please, please, please’ , and it sounded amazing, it sounded like the best thing he ever heard.
When he realized how close she was, he held her more tightly, wondered for about half a second if he should be cruel and stop, just to hear her whine and beg for it, but then, he wanted to give her this, he wanted to make her come until she asked him to stop.
Ludwig kept his tongue pressed flat against her clit until the shuddering of her orgasm passed and then lowered her onto the bed gently. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt, suddenly hyper-aware of how sweat was running down his back and how his cock was screaming for attention.
Marianne was lying on her stomach, pillows underneath her, moisture shining wetly between her thighs. There were welts and bruises on her skin and he wanted to touch them – so Ludwig bent over her, pressing open-mouthed kisses against the red marks on her buttocks. Marianne sighed, content, and Ludwig gave her a short slap against her bottom.
“ Hah! ”
“It’s polite to say Thank you after someone helps you with something, Marianne.”
She started laughing then, wiggled her hips, raised herself on her elbows and looked over her shoulder. Flashed a toothy grin at him.
“Thank you very much,” Marianne said, her voice dripping honey, enough to make his head hurt, and fake sweetness, “my darling, handsome, sweet …”
“You’re overdoing it,” he cut her off, gave her another small slap against her skin. It wasn’t meant to hurt , just to get her to shut up, the slap made Marianne yelp, and then giggle. All of these happy noises that made his heart beat a little faster, made his ears hot.
“But Ludwig – ” she dragged out his name, high and whiny and teasing, and he wanted to kiss her just to shut her up because she was embarrassing, because he didn’t want to admit that he enjoyed it, “Ludwig – Ludwig – I want more.”
“More of what?” he asked, though he had already climbed off the bed and was unbuttoning his shirt.
“More of you. Why are you still wearing clothes? Why aren’t you fucking me yet?” She threw him an exaggerated pout and said, “ Please fuck me.”
So Ludwig took off his shirt and put it on a chair, took off his pants and folded them slowly, all the while Marianne looking at him with this exceptional heat that he usually associated with horny men eyeing scantily-clad women. Her gaze on his skin felt as heavy as a caress, and Ludwig wasn’t the vain type, but he enjoyed it, how visibly she wanted him.
Marianne always made this breathy little sigh when he pushed inside of her, like she missed him, and he took great pleasure in hearing it. He pressed inside her slowly. Held her hips to steady himself. Rolled his hips, made her gasp, kept his unhurried pace. Loved seeing how his length disappeared inside her, how she stretched around him. The unmatchable surrender of her.
One hand in her hair, and grip, and pull her head up slightly. The lines of her spine dipped, the scars of her back moved, serpentine.
“Come here ,” he said, open palm against her collarbones, thumb grazing against the throbbing veins in her neck, feeling her blood pulsing there. Pushed her upwards, pulled her into him, against his chest, kissed the side of her throat.
Marianne let him hold her up like that, gasped and moaned, trusted him to hold her up and keep her balanced. Touched herself while Ludwig fucked her, went limp in his arms after she came. Reached behind him, fisted her fingers in his hair and turned her head to the side and kissed him.
And then he couldn’t stop kissing her, even if he wanted to.
Ludwig kissed her as he came, laid her down on the bed. Pillow under her head and their fingers entwined. Kissed her on her mouth, her cheeks, her jaw. Kissed the shell of her ear and over her throat, kissed her dip between her collarbones and made her sigh.
Chest and ribcage, the dips of her body, the swell of her breast. The marks he left on her skin and the ones that there were before, all those scars that he wanted to taste before but never allowed himself to. Her hip bones and the dips underneath them. The inside of her thighs. This one little birthmark she had on the side of her ribcage.
“What is it?” He put his chin on her abdomen and looked up at her, hand absentmindedly caressing the flesh.
Marianne looked at him struck, something raw that he couldn’t name or touch on her face. She blinked fast and then turned her head against the pillow, but she didn’t tell him to stop so he kept going. Ludwig didn’t want to fuck her again, he wanted to explore her and find out things about her that she would rather keep hidden.
Was she ticklish anywhere? What happened if he bit the flesh on the back of her knee?
She squirmed as he touched her, and worried her lower lip, and she didn’t tease him, she didn’t laugh at him, she didn’t tell him to hurry up. She lay there, fingers clutching the pillow under her head, let him have his fill of her.
There was semen dripping from her hole, and he wanted to push it back inside. So he did just that , fingers inside and looking at her face, at the way her beautiful blue eyes rolled back and her mouth fell open. Tongue on her clit, but he was mindful of how sensitive she must be – Ludwig didn’t want her to push him away, so he just kept his tongue pressed there, wet and gentle. Marianne’s hips twitched and rolled, seeking as much stimulation as she could take. He didn’t feel like hurrying, so he went slow. She sighed.
Marianne tasted different this time, sharper and saltier. Because of him, because of the things they had done together, because she allowed him inside, because he couldn’t get enough of her.
When Marianne came again, it was with pulsing contractions around his fingers, hips pushing against his face, trembling moans, low and soft. And then her breath hitched, and she laughed.
It wasn’t a giggle, nor a chuckle – it was the sort of laughter that took over your body all over, and she hid her face in her hands while her shoulders shook and Ludwig stared without really comprehending it.
When her laughter settled just enough to take her hands off her face and look at him, her face was splotchy red and her eyes glistened. Her mouth was relaxed and when he leaned over her, Marianne put her arms around Ludwig’s shoulders and pulled him down towards her. Pressed her nose behind his jaw.
“Hmmm, you’re heavy.”
“I’ll move if you…” He tried to wiggle away but she tightened her embrace, didn’t let him go.
“No, no, it’s fine . I like it.” Marianne nuzzled the side of his throat. Lips over his pulse point.
He allowed himself precisely one moment to breathe in the smell of her hair and relax in her arms, before rolling on his side and sliding out of bed. Marianne whined as he left, but thanked him when brought her a towel soaked with cold water and covered her buttocks and thighs with it.
“Can you bring me more chocolate, please?”
Normally his answer to such a request with a firm no, Ludwig wouldn’t allow snacking of any kind on the bed, but ….
“What do you want me to bring you?” he conceded with a sigh.
“Bring me some Austria’s fancy candies, please,” she asked him with a smirk. Later, she used Ludwig’s chest as a pillow as she bit into a chocolate ball and offered him the other half. “I’ve always loved these, you know.” She left her fingers to linger on his lips.
“Have you ever told Austria?” he countered, drawing patterns and circles over her back. Marianne laughed as she opened up another foil and pressed the chocolate against his lips. The smirking Mozart on the wrapper seemed to be judging him for the late-night indulgence, but he told himself it was alright to make a rare exception. And with how quickly Marianne was working through that box, there was likely not going to be much left soon
“Pfff, tell Austria I like something he makes? Banish the thought,” she answered him as she laughed, marzipan and nougat melting on her tongue.
“I apologize. How could I imply anything else?” He closed his eyes and enjoyed the weight of her body on him.
When Ludwig woke up, the first thing he noticed was his bedside clock. It showed he was 20 minutes ahead of his alarm, which would normally be the perfect start of a productive day. However, because nothing in his life was precisely normal at the moment – instead of sliding out of bed and starting his day, Ludwig stayed still as he took in all the strange points of contact between Marianne’s body and his.
On the back of his thighs. Her bony knees pressing against the back of his knees. Her face smushed between his shoulder blades. Breasts against his back. Arms around his waist.
The little spoon experience.
It was comforting to feel her coiled around him, soft puffs of breath sending goosebumps all over him. Marianne cuddled closer. Rubbed her nose against the dip of his spine. Pressed one hand firmly against his abdomen, and the other she dragged upwards over his skin, groped his chest and Ludwig suddenly realized that she was definitely not asleep.
“Marianne, what are you doing?”
“ Shhhh , mon Coeur , we’re both asleep.” He heard the flirty smirk in her voice, and he could imagine the exact quirk of her lips when she said it.
“We’re clearly not.”
“ Tsk .” Marianne’s long nails scratched across his chest, caught in his nipple. The sharpness of it tingled. “Play along ,” she whined. “You know, I’ve always wanted to ravish someone in their sleep.”
Ludwig snorted, but instead of commenting on how easy it would be for him to stop the ravishing, he closed his eyes and focused on how it felt when she touched him. Marianne pressed wet, open- mouthed kisses over the scar tissues on his back and lower, over his side. Bit into the flesh below his ribs, hard enough to make him gasp.
“Hey, Ludwig? Turn around, won’t you?”
Marianne climbed on top of him as soon as he lay on his back, and the first thing she did was to kiss underneath his jaw, over his Adam’s apple, his shoulder.
“Marianne, what are you doing?”
“Hmm – isn’t it obvious? I’m seducing you.” She looked at him with a smile, mischievous, eyelids lowered, pupils dark and full of warmth.
“Shouldn’t I be seducing you?” Ludwig cradled the side of her face and she leaned into his touch, put her hand over his and turned to nuzzle into his palm.
“You could,” Marianne conceded, but then she bent over and closed her teeth around one of his nipples. It went directly to his cock. “Or you could let me take care of you.”
Marianne licked and sucked marks over his chest and her mouth moving lower, lower.
“Ludwig, you’ve been so good to me,” her nails dragged over his thighs, pressed sharply into his skin, “And I love your body, you know. So I thought – I should show him .” Marianne took the head of his cock in her mouth and swirled her tongue over it, sucked him slowly and languorously until he was completely, painfully, urgently hard.
He tried to be silent and just focus on the feel of her mouth on him, tried to keep still and not buck, tried to do a lot of things until Marianne pulled away and left him like that. She ran a red, manicured nail over his shaft and he groaned – it sounded gutted and raw and needy, and he instantly regretted it. Unfortunately for him, she caught it, chuckled, and that was enough to make heat flush across his face and chest.
“You’re supposed to make sounds, you know,” she said, hand around his cock and stroking him. “How else am I supposed to know what you like?”
“That’s not fair,” he said, struggling to keep his voice even, “you know I like it, it’s…” Marianne twisted her palm over the head and dragged is back down over his length right as he was talking. It took him by surprise and he – that sound came out of his mouth again, the involuntary sound she wanted to pull from him.
Marianne was toying with him, he realized it – but it didn’t make it any less efficient, didn’t make him any less susceptible to her touch.
“See, now this is a moment in which I greatly regret my nice manicure.” She dug her nails into the meat of his thigh and pouted. “I could have had you wrapped around my fingers.”
“Your sense of humor is horrendous .”
“How dare you, my sense of humor is excellent.” She let go of his then and crawled up over his body to loom over him as efficiently as someone half his size could. “You wouldn’t deny me, would you?” she asked and bent over him so she could lick his lips.
“Would you let me fuck you?” Marianne smirked like a shark as she sat back on his cock, rubbing herself against it. “I promise I’d start with a small toy and I’d be gentle with you.”
He took a breath and imagined himself on his hands and knees, ass in the air, Marianne pushing toys inside him. Ludwig stomach clenched, hot and pulsing, both excitement and fear. Despite her promise, he couldn’t envision Marianne as being gentle, and the sharpness of her smile pointed towards anything but. Ludwig knew he would let her do whatever she wanted, despite or because of.
Maybe the thoughts in his head were written over his face. Marianne looked so pleased with herself that she positioned him at her entrance and lowered herself over his length, rolled her hips in small circles that made his breath catch.
“Do you like how I feel? Tell me you like me , Ludwig.” She kept grinding into him deliberately with each word – head thrown back, spine arched. Breasts bouncing, dark pink nipples hard, voice teasing and a little mean, just enough . “Come on, dearest , tell me how tight I am and how you can’t get enough of me.”
“ Marianne .” He really did whine at that, closed his eyes and bit his tongue, because just because he was willing to give her things, he wasn’t ready to admit to it. He gripped her thighs and held onto her.
“I can’t get enough of you, Ludwig.” Her voice broke around his name, and it didn’t matter if she was overplaying it or not.
She reached out and grabbed his cheeks, urged him to sit up, embracing him and pressing herself close, no distance between them. Marianne cradled the back of his head and kissed him, her breath shuddering into his mouth,
“You always kiss me like that ,” Marianne whispered, raw and raspy. “Like you’re drowning,”
And oh, why did she have to pick these moments in which his defenses were torn away, just so she could press further inside?
Instead of saying anything to her, the only thing he could do to distract both from this dangerous train of thought was to slide his tongue into her mouth, chasing the words off her lips, smashing together, teeth nipping. Fingers through her hair, sweaty skin against his, the slip and slide, the building, mounting pressure and urgency.
The bed was screeching, headboard banging against the wall. Between them, there were moans and gasps and shared breaths.
“Kiss me, kiss me .”
The alarm clock on his nightstand started ringing, but Marianne kept moving against him and Ludwig kept kissing her, and kissing her, and kissing her.
They were both in the car, Germany driving and France looking out the window at the buildings that passed them by. The silence between them was comfortable, and Germany was sure he was about to break that, so he braced himself for it.
“Why did you agree to marry me?”
It made her laugh. France turned to look at him as they were waiting for the light to turn green. Bright, warm sunlight made her glow.
“You’re seriously asking?”
“It’s a very silly question, mon chou . And at a time like this…” She was stalling, he realized. “We’re almost there, aren’t we?”
“Nevertheless, I would like to know,” he told her, firm.
There was a long moment in which neither of them said anything. France seemed to be running the question through her head, mulling over whether or not she should answer.
“After the war ended – I had no idea what to do with myself. I looked at the world around me and it was all spinning too fast. One minute, Arthur and I had the whole world spread out in front of us to do whatever we wanted, and the next you and Alfred and Ivan – just decided to change the rules of the game and I felt myself drifting between feelings, while before I was so sure of myself. And Arthur…”
France worried her lower lip, gaze far off.
“Arthur wanted to throw himself into another war. Arthur wanted the same things he always did, and I took one look at him and I knew precisely how it would all end, how things between us always ended. I could even tell you what we would say to seduce each other or what we would throw around when he had to break up. Word by word.”
Germany parked the car and stopped the motor, but instead of getting out and going into the Bundeshaus, he turned towards her.
“Usually I was so eager to throw myself into that, but after the war? I was tired . And I looked at Arthur and saw this endless game that I knew by heart and I was tired .” She shrugged. “At least, when I look at you, I’m not quite sure what to expect. I don’t know you , and for the first time in a long time I get the chance to see how something plays out without having the answers already.”
“Are you telling me you decided to marry me because you’re bored ?” he asked with a snort, unable to keep it out of his voice.
“At my age, you need all the entertainment you can get, mon cheri .” Marianne unbuckled her seat belt and got out of the car before him. Ludwig swore under his breath as he got out as well – he wanted to open the car door for her so she wouldn’t accuse him of not having manners again.
France already had a lit cigarette hanging from the side of her mouth, and he scoffed when he looked at her.
“We’re going to work, Marianne.”
“Oh, hush , I have time for a cigarette, dear. I’ll smoke it till we get there.” She rolled her eyes at him as she walked over to his side and blew a lungful of smoke at him.
“Must you do that?”
“It’s not just because I’m bored, you know,” she told him with a small smile. Marianne raised herself on her tip toes and pressed a quick kiss to his cheek, sneaked her hand into his and laced their fingers together. “I’ll make dinner for you tonight.”
“I thought you didn’t know how to cook!”
“I said I didn’t cook, not that I didn’t know how to ! Please give me some credit --Monsieur Carême taught me some things, you know!”
“Well, you said …”