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Things We May Forget One Day

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Elizaveta was never really heavily involved in any trifle political talks. They had agreed, somewhat uncomfortably, that Roderich would work in diplomatics and she would work with war. War, the thing that for such a long time, she was so comfortable with. The blood had never bothered her, the spliced heads rolling on the battlefield were gruesome, yes, but she had always abided under the impression that the ends justified the means. The Great War had torn her apart, literally, relegating her from a powerful nation in Central Europe to a much smaller, much less economically stable country that teetered in political unrest. Elizaveta’s people had first endured a dictatorship, than a drawing of the Iron Curtain that swept them under the Soviet regime. It was then that she realized war was not what she thought it. Or at least, far much more was at stake than a few thousand soldiers. Sometimes it could be an entire ethnicity’s safety, others it could be the internal stability found in dozens of countries- threatening to collapse at any moment. Diplomacy that had taken centuries to create could be destroyed with only a round of ammunition. War was not something to be fiddled with, something to respect, but never to fool with. Elizaveta was not a fool, and she would not be making any of the same mistakes ever again.

Lili wipes the sweat off her brow, tying her hair back into small pigtails of scraggly, unwashen hair that reeks of sweat. Times have changed so quickly, turmoiled. Her dress, marred with tatters, hands loose on her frame. She is unstable on her feet, balance wavering every other step. She has a meeting later with her boss, and they plan to discuss a possible solution to the war times that have torn her country apart. It is at this meeting that talks are in place of a monetary union between her and her neighbor, Vash. Her army had been disbanded in the 1860’s for financial reasons, and honestly, no one knew where this war could be going. It might show at her doorstep at any moment, and while many of her citizens were prepared to defend themselves, the government itself was in a position that it could not recover from. She joins with Vash, a serious man who rarely smiles but is quite kind to her. The Austrian-Hungarian Empire, or whichever it is called these days, falls in the wake of the war. Roderich, her long time financial partner, disconnects entirely. Him and Elizaveta have lost a war, a war that she is sure no one will forget.

But they do forget. A century later, people remember the Great War as World War I, a younger beast that while ferocious, cowered in the face of the Second World War, a war that practically defined genocide, crimes against humanity, and death tolls. Even afterwards, she is forced under the U.S.S.R., and when she is finally free, the world seems to be moving on. She works on diplomacy albeit a little clumsily, rekindles old relations with neighbors like Feliks and begins tentative ones with others. She is on a better road that she is positive will lead to something great.

Lili is content to make a quieter history for herself, one with much smaller portions of unrest and battles. She is not against the old ways, she respects them for what they once were, but she has been neutral now for many years and plans on advancing in areas like technology and maybe banking. She is baking a cake at the moment; it is almost Vash’s birthday, and every year she whips one up for him. Every year, he acts surprised, and maybe he is. Maybe he is so busy that he forgets his own birthday until his practically little sister waves at him cheerily from the road, motions him inside and shows him the small kitchen of her cottage- laden with cut out flowers like daffodils and daisies and a simple yellow cake frosted with light pink buttercream on a cracked plate in the center. The doorbell dings, a noise she has never liked, and she glances at the stove clock to make sure her cake will not burn, dusts her flour-covered hands on her apron and peeks through the small window in the door. It’s Elizaveta, holding a manilla folder and a plate of sugar cookies, sprinkled with red and white sugars- probably in honor of his flag. She opens the door, a little surprised at her presence. She and Vash have never been especially close, and Elizaveta has never before come to one of their small parties.

Elizaveta waves the manilla folder, brushing an escaped coil of brown hair behind her ear. She smiles at her, allowing Lili to let her inside, scuffing the bottoms of her sandals of their mud on the welcome rug. “I thought I’d bring this over,” she relays, dropping the platter on the table and looking uncomfortable, as she fiddles with the plait of hair that follows her spine almost perfectly. “Well, thank you for coming,” she says graciously, unsure of what to say. “I was thinking,” Elizaveta begins, tapping her finger as if wondering how she should organize her words. “Well, I guess I was wondering, if we could have more diplomatic relations between our countries.” Lili winces. “That is not my decision to make,” she relays, although Elizaveta’s face, twisted in careful thought, make her want more than anything to say ‘yes’. She does not know what her boss would say though, and despite being the personification of Liechtenstein, she is not in charge. Not even close. An embodiment of the best ideals, the best intentions, the best spirits found in her nation, perhaps, but not a prince or a prime minister, she isn’t even in the Diet. Despite herself, Lili guesses that her boss will most likely refuse her. Liechtenstein is very wealthy, with a high standard of living and high standards of almost everything, and while Hungary is no third-world country, they’re facing some economic problems at the moment and still feel the effects of Soviet occupation, which ended only in 1991. So she offers tentatively, “I can take it up with him, okay?” She is still almost positive that he will say no, but it never hurt to ask.

Elizaveta shrugs casually. “Thanks,” she says, smiling lightly and turning to the oven. “Do you need to take the cake out?” Lili nods in panic, not even having the chance to respond, yanking the oven door open and coughing away the smoke as she picks up the dish and drops it on the counter, rubbing her burned fingers. As the fog clears, she sees that it isn’t too burnt, only on the top. “Just cut the top off, and put some extra frosting on it,” Elizaveta suggests. Lili’s anxiety ebbs away. “I never thought of that,” she admits shyly, taking the tub of frosting she concocted earlier out of the refrigerator. “You could stay for dinner,” she offers, and Eliza’s cheeks color pink- the exact shade of the frosting.

Elizaveta shakes her head ruefully. “I’ve got a meeting, but have fun at the party anyway!” she says, leaving in a hurry, the manilla folder left on the table accusingly. Lilu sighs, and she knows that years of trying to learn diplomacy skills has left Elizaveta practically incapable of going at things faster than a crawl. She is quite fond of Elizaveta, and even if their countries are not heavily involved in the moment, Lili wishes Eliza would understand that not all friendships have to have a hundred years of prerequisites. Some things just are, she decides, as she dials Elizaveta’s cell number on her home phone, set on inviting her back. She can’t have gotten that far in the few minutes she’s spent pondering, Lili tells herself as she hears Eliza’s cheery answering machine recording. Heartbeat slowing and shoulders drooping slightly, she drops the phone back on the receiver. Another time, she promises herself.