Nobody knew that he remembered.
No, Prussia had always been careful about that topic. He’d become good, when Italy and his brother came to dinner together, at dragging it back to the taste of the food or another awesome story about his many successes that always earned him an eye-roll from Germany. The topic of Holy Rome would come up without fail, and he’d grown used to it.
But recently, it had been making him guilty.
It happened mostly at night in his bedroom. There was an old, slightly faded photograph sitting atop his dresser of everyone at Austria’s house for a visit, some party ages ago. The picture was a gift from Hungary, shortly after Holy Rome’s “death”. Her lovely green eyes lingered in his, filled with sadness, while she spouted some crap like, “he was such a brave little boy,” or “at least he died a glorious death”. Prussia had wanted to say something comforting, but the words stuck in his throat and all he could choke out was a “thanks”.
Everyone seemed pretty happy in the photograph, except for Austria of course, but it’s the two smallest children that he fretted about. Holy Rome is standing next to Italy, blushing as per usual, but overall looking pretty content.
He’s really stupid, thinks Prussia. He can’t even remember the love of his life.
It made him think about how he’d rescued Holy Rome. Still a little thing back then, beaten up, couldn’t even remember his name. He was lucky Prussia had been walking by right at that moment or the small nation would’ve been a goner.
He looked after the still-childlike country, of course. It took months of tentative care for him to recover. One night, when his condition had finally begun to improve, he had walked into the kitchen in his oversized pajamas.
“Ah, Holy Rome!” Prussia had begun, looking up from whatever he’d been reading. “Is everything okay? Are you thirsty or something?”
“My name is Germany,” the child had said definitively.
Everything changed after that brief conversation. The little black cape and gold-trimmed hat were gone; Germany wanted more “mature” clothes. His voice became harder and more set, and his accent was…different. The small guest room Prussia had given him was always much cleaner than even Prussia had ever kept it.
For years Prussia had been unsure of what to do. When France came to break the news that Holy Rome had vanished, everyone thought dear Holy Rome was dead. It caused him physical pain to think of how Italy had sobbed, cries of how he’d always promised to come back before Hungary carried him away. Austria too felt incredibly guilty, shaking his head and gripping the arm of his chair. Though Prussia wished he had not been visiting at that particular moment, he was grateful he hadn’t been the one to bring the bad news.
Germany grew up and left with hardly a backwards glance to his foster brother. They talked on the phone occasionally, but Prussia was too “immature” and “irritating”. He’d been ecstatic when Germany met Italy, hoping there might be some exciting remembrance like in a fairy tale. He supposed Germany had changed a lot spending time with his newfound friend, but when Italy would tell fond stories about Holy Rome over dinner, there would be no flash of recognition in Germany’s face, no inclination for Italy to go on.
No, life went on like this, wars came and went.
Prussia’s train of thought was interrupted as the black taxi slows to a stop at a traffic light.
München Hospital: 2 kilometers.
Earlier that day, Prussia had been doing some paperwork at home when the phone had rung.
“Hello, the awesomest Prussia he-,”
“Prussia. I have serious news.” Austria’s voice sounded even more harried than usual.
“Did West screw something up?”
“He was cleaning out his attic, and-,”
“Not that it really needs any cleaning,” Prussia said.
“Will you just be quiet and let me finish! He was cleaning out his attic, and something large fell on top of him. It was very lucky I was there.”
“That’s weird. He knows where everything is in his house.”
“I don’t remember quite what it was – oh, some kind of old chest or dresser. The wood was splintering so they are making sure he didn’t get any infected wounds. It’s locked so – hold on,” Austria pulled the phone away and yelled something.
Old chest. Prussia’s eyes widened in horror. Filled with panic, he yelled into his receiver: “It was locked? Was it green with some old paint on it?”
“Is it even relevant? Just get over to the München hospital as soon as you can!” Austria hung up the phone.
This is all my fault, Prussia thought. Why did I ever put that chest up there? He’d never have remembered anyway.
There were a few flashing blue and red lights around the hospital as the taxi pulled up in front. Prussia threw the correct fare at the taxi driver and pulled open the door, almost falling onto the icy pavement in his haste.
“Get out of the way!” Prussia yelled, shoving people aside. “I need to see my brother!”
Finally finding his way to the door, he ran into the quiet lobby and tore up to the receptionists’ desk. “I need to see We- Ludwig. Ludwig Beilschmidt.”
The secretary’s eyes moved lazily down to her computer. “That’ll be under B, Be…”
“He’s the patient that just came in. With all the ambulances and stuff outside.” Prussia struggled to keep his voice even. The woman at the desk appeared not to have heard him and continued her slow search.
“THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!” Prussia yelled.
“I’ve got him,” said a familiar voice, grabbing his arm. “Come on, Prussia.”
Austria led the way down a sickly white corridor full of fluorescent lights. “The doctors say he will probably be fine,” Austria said. “Even so, he will need to stay a while in the hospital.”
“Does he look alright? Have they diagnosed him with any diseases? Tetanus?”
“God, Prussia, no,” Austria said with a sigh. “He doesn’t have anything serious. It’s a minor concussion. He passed out and – well, you know Italy,” said Austria. “He wouldn’t leave your brother alone for a second. I called Hungary to tell her and she said she’s on her way.”
Prussia let out a breath of relief. Now I’ll just have to destroy that little chest of mementos before anyone notices. However, Austria wasn’t finished.
“The doctors are rather worried, though. He can’t remember any of his childhood, or what we consider childhood anyway. Head trauma can cause amnesia, but they say it would usually apply to information learned in the past year, so they are baffled,” Austria said. Adjusting his glasses, he turned on the albino and said “Did you know anything about this beforehand?”
Prussia froze midway through climbing a stair. “No, not at all. Westy never tells me anything, you know that.” He gave a short nervous laugh, but Austria didn’t seem to notice.
“Still…it is confusing. As I did not know him as a child, I could not say…” Austria frowned and tapped his arm impatiently. “I do wish this place had a piano.”
The two nations lapsed into silence. Before long, they arrived in a quieter waiting room. “The doctor will tell us when we can see him,” Austria said, gesturing for Prussia to sit down.
“Where’s Italy?” Prussia asked.
His companion rolled his eyes. “He made such a fuss when they tried pry him off Germany that for the sake of the other patients in the ward, they just left him in the room. I think he’s sleeping.”
Prussia slumped into an upholstered chair next to the aristocratic nation. He knew well enough that while head trauma could make people forget things, it could also bring up long-lost memories.
How am I going to get out of this one?