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The Naming of Things

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Germany loves Prussia, as any little sister would love and respect her older brother. However, it’s not to say that Prussia is without faults or that she understands what goes  through his head when he make certain choices.

Take, for example, the following incident –

It’s 1924 and they’re sitting at the negotiation table. On Germany’s side, there’s Prussia and Herr Stressmann. Prussia’s irritated that they must be here at all, Herr Stressmann is determined to negotiate the best possible outcome for their future, and Germany is cautious about her expectations.

On the other side of the table, there’s France and her Aristide Briand. She looks tired and she has bangs under her eyes, she’s bristles easily and doesn’t like the idea of being forced to renounce her occupation of the Rurh area.  France stirs a spoonful of sugar in her coffee, the click of metal against the porcelain cup is louder than it should be.

There’s a tense silence in the room. Besides Germany, Prussia is restless, fidgeting with his pen. He believes the best way to get France out of Ruhr is to force her out, he doesn’t like playing the diplomacy game with her. Prussia says France is a warmongering old bitch, double crossing and silver-tongued, saying there’s no winning against France through peaceful means.

Prussia says there’s countries that aren’t made for peace, and France is one of them. Too much of Rome inside her, and not the good parts. 

Germany is logically inclined to trust her brother’s assessment. She doesn’t know much of France. What she knows of France is relentless, punishing and demanding – she’s the France from Versailles, the one that rained down punishments and demanded war reparations so high that Germany felt them like whips across her back.  Germany doesn’t yet know how she’s supposed to navigate her relationship with her neighbor.

At the moment, France is ignoring them, preferring to let Monsieur Briand do the talking. Somehow, her stony silence and straight back are more annoying to Prussia than her if she were snarking.

“You’re awfully quiet today, aren’t you?”

“Maybe I simply have nothing to say to you, Herr Beilschmidt.”

“God, are you prissy because you’re hormonal or because England ain’t fucking you right lately?”

And really Germany barely even processes what comes out of his mouth, because France is already throwing her coffee across the table and straight into Gilbert’s face.

After that, it’s a bit of a blur.

France leaves the negotiating table without so much as a glance back to them. Briand runs after her. Stressmann is yelling at Prussia. Prussia is yelling back. Germany is completely overwhelmed by the commotion, all cautious hopes and plans for the future falling to pieces in front of her.

The rest of the days is spent pondering France’s closed door. She’s barricaded herself inside her hotel room, and she’s refusing to come out. Monsieur Briand is permitted inside, but he’s unsuccessful in convincing her to come out. There’s shouting, and accusations, and Germany can picture her with her mind’s eye – a blonde willowy woman, elegant and poised, but very brittle, pacing through the room while ranting, hurt and insulted.

She can’t quite blame her for being upset, Prussia is difficult at the best of times and crude when he wants to be. He meant to hurt her with his words and succeeded, but it’s possible he didn’t quite think further than that. There’s something else there that Germany things she might understand – the kinship felt between individuals who are constantly reminded of their sex.

Germany and Prussia are sitting together in the living room of their hotel suite. There’s glasses of brandy on the table for both of them, but they haven’t been touched. Prussia’s been too busy stomping around, while she’s struggling very hard not to accuse him of purposefully sabotaging their negotiations.

The clock on the wall ticks away minutes, hours, the sun starts setting. Her and Prussia aren’t talking to each other. Gilbert knows he fucked up, and Monika wants to hold him accountable for it, but right now there’s no telling what the severity of this is. Maybe France will be willing to come back tomorrow, maybe she’ll refuse. Maybe she’ll double down on her Rurh occupation.

When Stressmann comes back, both her and Gilbert turn to him in the same heartbeat. He’s got a stony expression coming in, but as the door closes shut behind him there’s a release of tension. His spine curves inwards and he sighs.

“This is a rotten mess.” He announces, and Germany’s heart seizes in her chest. Prussia wants to say something, but Herr Stressmann raises a hand and it shuts him up efficiently, “Before you say anything – she’s right to be upset with your behavior. None of us are especially thrilled about the position we’re in, Gilbert.” 

“Marianne has a way to get on my nerves. She has done so since before Napoleon was even a swimmer in his old man’s balls, and now…”

“Nonetheless, we’re going to need her to be willing to negotiate, don’t we?” Stressmann walks over to the table and picks up one of the brandy tumblers. He takes a long gulp of it and grimaces as he sets it down, “Briand says that if she doesn’t feel comfortable being here, they all leave.”

The idea of France herself having so much power over her politicians seems impossible to Germany. They shouldn’t be able to influence their own politics as much. It doesn’t shock Prussia, though.

“Pfft. Typical French. All her politicians are at least halfway in love with her.”

“Yes, that might be so. Though it does nothing to change the fact that we need her personal approval for this, and you did quite a job at mucking up her good graces - ” Stressmann lights himself a cigar, smoke tickles at Germany’s nose unpleasantly. He continues, “She said she doesn’t want to see you anymore.”

“What do you mean, she doesn’t want to see me anymore?”

Herr Stressmann shrugs. Prussia’s face turns red, but he says nothing. Instead, throws a glance at Germany, uneasiness written very plainly on his features. She starts realizing what Stressmann is hinting at before he vocalizes it.

“The lady Bonnefoy says that if negotiations are to continue, from now on she wishes to deal with your sister instead of you.”

“I’ve never spoken more than two words with France before.” The thought of dealing with France alone is slightly frightening. It had always been quite easy to let the Franco-Prussian animosity play out in front of her.

“I supposed this will a good time to start engaging with her. It’s not as if we have much choice in the matter, Fraulein.”

Gilbert tries to protest, thinking this might be something he needs to defend her from. The Big Bad French Lady, the one that’s supposed to suck out your soul if you let her. She appreciates the protective sentiment, her brother is nothing if not protective of her. Because she loves him, and because she doesn’t want him to feel even more slighted than he’s already feeling, Monika chooses not to point out that if he kept his damn mouth shut, she wouldn’t be forced to act like a bearer of peace.

“There’s no need to wait, then. I’ll go speak to her now.”

“Now? Why do you have to go now?”

Germany squares her shoulders and gets up from her seat, straightening her suit-jacket and brushing off her pants to make sure they sit right. She stopped wearing dresses and skirts as soon as she was old enough to dress herself, and ever since it’s been a continuous variation of suits with pants. She got her clothes made at the same tailors her brother did, though they had to learn how to create jackets and pants that would accommodate her chest and thighs.

“The sooner we get things sorted out, the better.”

And she doesn’t let Prussia convince her otherwise.

There’s an anxious knot of emotion in her chest that drives her forward. Monika considers herself a pragmatic person. Once her mind is made up on something, there’s no need to sit around waiting for something to change. In this case specifically, she’s determined to make things right as soon as possible, so they can focus on important things rather than the petty squabbles between her brother and his old…Rival? Friend? Lover?

Whatever France and Prussia were to each other in the past, it does not matter to Germany’s present. It’s what she tells herself as she walks through the hotel, rushes up two flights of stairs and gets to the floor that the French delegation is staying on.

At least they are all in the same building, with the conference room conveniently on ground floor. The sheer chaos of this day unfolding across several venues in a city she’s unfamiliar with, as opposed to a single building – she shudders at the thought.  

When she arrives in front of France’s door, she takes a deep breath first and counts to ten as she exhales. Only after that, when she feels herself more centered, does she knock on the door. Three solid knocks in rapid succession, and she hears movement on the other side of the door.

France appears in the doorway, features tense, delicate eyebrows frowning, lips pressed tightly together. Her hair has been let loose to spill over her slim shoulders, a tumble of soft looking curls. It catches Germany off guard to see her like this, which causes a falter in her actions. France looks as if she was expecting her.

“I suppose Stressmann sent you?” France asks as way of greeting. It’s so frosty, and Germany knows she’s not going to make things easier on her. Monika is not a coward, though, and she’s here to make amends on behalf of her brother, so it would be unwise to be defensive in this. 

“I came on my own volition. I am here to apologize for what happened, I realize my brother’s comment was out of hand and I...”  It’s hard to get things out in a semi-coherent fashion, what with France staring at her as if she is an overgrown nuisance. She stops talking, her tongue refuses to move, but her mouth is open for a second too long. Her teeth click together when she snaps it shut. Awkwardness follows.

There’s a heartbeat of silence between them. France is gauging the sincerity of her intentions, no doubt, and Germany wishes she would know how to convince her, but alas, there’s nothing. Her mind is firing blanks. Luckily for her, though, France deems her honest enough, so she steps aside and allows Germany to follow her inside her room.

Right as she steps inside the expensive hotel suite, she smells France’s sweet, honeyed perfume, and how it’s intermingling with a hint of smoke. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s foreign and it makes her acutely aware of where she is. She doesn’t know what do with herself and simply sits there, feeling the strong urge to sit at attention in France’s presence.

“Please sit down,” the other woman says, as she motions to the pair of armchairs in front of the windows. “Unlike your brother, I have manners and I know how to treat a fellow nation I’m treating with.” With that, France sits, and Germany follows her lead, stiff and straight-backed and feeling completely ill-equipped in how she should deal with the woman.

The window is cracked open a bit, and there’s an opened bottle of wine, two glasses and an ashtray on the table between them. France pours wine for both of them, lights a cigarette and blows the smoke in Germany direction. Her eyes are cutting, rimmed with heavy golden lashes, and incredibly blue.

“Your Monsieur Stressmann came over to speak to us – to Aristide and I. Do you know what he said?” France’s mouth quirks and she continues without missing a beat, “He said ‘Germany herself cannot be the only one that makes compromises for peace’ and yet you bring your warmongering brother and sit him with us, while I’m supposed to forget the slights against my person?”

France shakes her head, and her hair bounces along with her movement. There’s a slight flush of anger on her face, and it only serves to highlight how smooth the curve of her cheek is, how bright her mouth.

“My brother is a difficult man.” Germany says, cautiously. She wants France to see her for herself, as her own woman, not her brother’s shadow. The realization makes her swallow against the knot of emotion in her throat before continuing, “I am not like him, though. I don’t wish for another pointless war, I – “

“I don’t believe you.” France cuts her off, without even allowing her to finish. Her words are slap to the face, absolutely disheartening. Monika’s first instinct is, of course, to defend herself and the honor of her word. She even opens her mouth do to so, to react to the feelings of unjust accusation that’s being thrown her way.

But then she looks at France, and thinks – why should this woman believe me? France and Germany are strangers to each other, and circumstances brought them to this point in which need makes them interact.

During the Great War, Germany donned her Imperial Army uniform and went off to war, with Prussia and Hungary and Austria. Somehow, she had been naïve enough to think that it they would be victorious in it, a war like a bonding activity that would fix the ever-widening cracks in her family. Looking back, she wants to scold the silly little thing she had been then, for allowing herself to be fooled like that.

France had never been on the battlefield herself, though. Either she thought herself too good for the muck of the trenches, or her bosses wouldn’t allow it. Her armies were there to fight for her, but the woman was a ghost whose presence merely lingered over them. Germany remembers how she spent her days in the trenches, binding her chest until her ribcage was bruised, wishing for her brother, for Hungary, for Austria. She remembers sometimes wishing she were the boy that Holy Roman Empire had been, maybe then she would have been better suited for war. Most of all, in this moment, sitting besides an old enemy she doesn’t even know, she remembers how much she wished she could catch a glimpse of France, to see her on the other side of the trenches just to convince herself that she was fighting against someone real.   

“You have to reason to believe me.” her lips are dry, so she runs the tips of tongue over them.  France’s face softens a little at her words, so it seems like this is the right way to approach this. “If you permit me, though – I would like to give you reasons to believe me. I’d like it for our relationship to be different than what you had with my brother. If both of us are willing to make allowances…”

“I don’t know you. How do I know you’re being honest?”

“You’ll have time to know me. I’m a woman of my word.” Germany tells her plainly. She has little talent for words, so there’s no point in trying to embellish. Either France will believe her, or she won’t. Monika makes sure to look her in the eye and hold her gaze, as hard as it is to do so.

France is incredibly beautiful. Disarmingly so. And Monika thinks that’s the point – she wields that vulnerable, feminine beauty like a weapon. There’s an urge to run your finger over the edges of her to see if you’d cut yourself, despite the deceptive softness of her face.

France cocks her head to the side, studies her. Monika can see her thoughts racing in the way her eyes flash, in how she chews on her bottom lip, how her nostrils flare in interest. She wants to squirm under the attention, her face already warm.  

“You’re very different.”

“From Prussia?”

“No, from…” France trails off. It hangs between them, though. Him, the other him, the one that everyone expected her to be, but she isn’t. She’s a replacement that comes up short in memories, in temperament, in self-confidence. However, there’s nothing she can do about it.

“I’m not him,” she says, already familiar with this conversation, with the disappointment everyone tried to hide when they realized that she wasn’t the dead boy they all cared about. “Sadly, I’m only myself.” It never fails to sting. It’s always a rejection.

France, though – she’s a surprise. Instead of the expected tension, the woman laughs. The sound of it is like rummaging through a jewelry box, like pearls hitting each other. 

“You misunderstand me,” she says, “I meant it as a compliment. I might like you more.”

Germany feels lighter, relieved because this might be the first time someone, she barely knows expresses this as a positive, without any sort of regret lingering. It makes her feel warm, in that very special way that beautiful women smiling at her made her feel warm in her stomach.

They have a long way to go until they have any sort of relationship established, but this is something, at least. It’s a start.

 


 

They sign the Locarno Treaties and there’s a wave of joy and relief spreading through Europe. They call it the Spirit of Locarno, and all of Europe can feel it in the air. It’s the first taste of optimism she’s felt in a long time.

Germany continues meeting with France and it’s surprising to everyone that they seem to get along. France seems to be fond of her in her own way. Sometimes she looks at Monika with this delicate frown between her eyebrows, like she’s made a game out of understanding her with as little words possible. It never fails to make Germany feel warm on the inside, whenever she feels France’s gaze lingering on her longer than strictly necessary.

She’s not stupid, though. She knows it’s not about that, not about how she would want it to be. Everyone is half in love with France, Prussia said so, even her ministers are! Like it’s the natural way of the world, and it’s obvious in how men and woman alike look at her. The Lady Bonnefoy is free and generous with her smiles, and Germany doesn’t allow herself to dwell on the thought more than she should.

But her eyes still search out for France whenever they’re in the same space.

In 1926, they are at the Teatro alla Scalla in Milan, because Italy invites them all to the premiere of Turandot. Puccini is dead already, so Feliciano is highly emotional about the entire affair, like he always gets whenever he talks about his dead artists. He’s very engaged whenever he talks about arts, he explains things to her without making her feel condescended.

She thinks that all of Austria’s lecturing was lost on her when it came to the opera, as she doesn’t consider herself equipped with the right emotional tools to process it to the full extent of its beauty. Monika tries, though, for Feliciano, because she cares about him, and if he wants her to enjoy Turandot she’s going to try her hardest to.

There’s so many fashionably dressed people, women in beautiful dresses, the glitz and glamour of an event. Germany’s taller a lot of the men here, and her hair is cropped short, but boyishly so, not in the flapper style that is so popular nowadays. She refused to wear a dress, despite people telling her it would be more appropriate.

It would be better to be invisible here, because it’s so painfully obvious that she’s sticks out, out of place next to a man that struggles very hard to be her friend. She should be grateful for his kindness and she is, but it’s so hard in moments like this to not be acutely aware of herself, of her surroundings, of the shadow that looms between them. Feliciano gave up having any expectations of her, but it doesn’t mean that Monika doesn’t feel like she’s disappointing whenever there’s something she should know, should like, should remember, but she doesn’t.

Sometimes idle thoughts make their way into her head. Maybe it would be easier if I wore dresses. The the disconnect would be more profound. If I let my hair grow longer. If I wore make-up. If I acted more ladylike, then maybe they would forget.

The problem is, though, that Germany would never be that kind of woman. The elegant and beautiful, delicately disarming woman was something she gazed at from afar.

France comes to the opera wearing a black dress, with a long fur stole draped over her bare arms. Her dress is highly embellished, with a beaded fringe hanging off the fabric. She moves around and the beads hit against each other, they catch in the light and glow iridescent, like an oil spill, and the image of her settles into Germany’s stomach much the same. Heavy.

The woman walks around, and Germany wants to run her fingers through the fringe on her dress so she can test the texture of it. She wants to run her fingers through France’s hair, too, just to feel it. To see what a woman like that is supposed be made from, because it’s very hard to believe that she’s made of the same stuff that Germany is.

Monika was never the kind to long for pretty hair and pretty dresses. In fact, she cut her hair herself when she realized it was more trouble than it was worth, and dresses seemed like too much for a bother. Whenever she sees France, though, she’s always overcome with the deep, insistent desire to experience it. Not on herself, but on the tips of her fingers and on her tip of her tongue.

During the performance, she tries to focus on the music and the setting, but her eyes keep going back to the blond head that’s sitting next to England. She’s not jealous because there would be no point in it. England and France and the relationship between them – whatever it is, it’s none of her business.

But she thinks about it.

After the performance is over, Germany goes outside to take a breath of fresh air. There’s a crowd of inside that are all discussing the music, and she doesn’t really want anyone to ask her what she thinks about it. There’s no answer to please critics, which is something she learned the hard way.

However, she’s outside, and she sees France when the other woman storms out of the La Scala. At first she doesn’t notice Germany, but Germany notices her. And she shouldn’t, she should stop noticing her each time she’s around, but it’s very hard because Germany’s nose catches scent of her in the air, all honey sweet perfume and cigarette smoke.

Maybe she’s been staring because that’s when France turns to her and notices she’s there.

“Oh, hello, my dear.” She says with a smile. Her lipstick looks smudged, like someone kissed her and then she tried to fix it hastily in the bathroom. “I didn’t see you there.” And her eyes look wet.

“I wanted to get some air. I don’t like it inside, it’s…” But she trails off. It’s hard to focus on things. “Are you alright?”

“I would rather not be here, to be perfectly honest.” France has a way of saying things, with her lips quirked and her tone just a little bit delicate, as if she’s sharing secrets. ”I suppose I’ll ask Feliciano for a chauffeur, and…”

“I can drive you. If you want.” And Germany usually isn’t the bold type, but still she offers, blurts it out without thinking about it.

France’s eyes widen slightly, like she’s surprised by the offer, and then just as smoothly she accepts it.

“Alright. You can drive me.”

Women don’t drive, but Germany does. She learned how to drive even before Prussia did and it’s with not small amount of pride that she opens the door for France. There’s something exciting about the whole thing, how she drives in silence with France sitting next to her. It makes her feel older, more grown-up in a way that other things simply do not.

France is self-indulgently sad as she looks out the window, but melancholy suits her. Wistful. Germany could spend a very long time staring at the soft lines of her face and not get tired of them.

She never understood art in the way that Feliciano talked about it, but then again, Monika never found anything beautiful enough to stare at it for long, nothing worth spending so much attention on. Except…maybe….?

Germany stops the car in front of France’s hotel. When she wants to get out to open the car door for her passenger, there’s a hand on her wrist stopping her. Long delicate fingers holding her wrist, and she stops breathing. She can’t look at France because it would be too revealing, but she looks at her hand instead. France notices, she must notice, it’s so obvious, isn’t it?

France – Marianne? Is it appropriate to call her that? Is it too forward, too intimate? But in her head maybe it’s alright to call her that from time to time - She runs her fingertips over Monika’s palm, pulls her hand forward.

“Monika?”

The leather of the car seat dips as France leans forward, their faces close together, noses brushing against each other. Monika’s mind is absolutely blank, there’s no thoughts, there’s just a void that being inundated with waves of blue, like paint spilling and sloshing, pretty Parisian blue like Marianne’s eyes.

There’s a finger that’s tracing the curve of Monika’s lower lip, a finger with a red painted nail that drags over her lip, and she tries not to flinch, not to lean in, not to breathe. She doesn’t believe in hypnotism or magic, and yet this is the closest she’s ever been to being bewitched.

France smirks at her and whispers, “Breathe, darling.”

And she didn’t even know that she needed permission to do that, but when France says it she gasps, lips parted and chest tight. And that’s when France kisses her, silky lips against her own, stealing the breath that had gotten stuck in her throat.

Fra…-Marianne’s hand cradles the back of her head as they kiss. She pulls Monika in closer, and tongue licking inside to taste her. Warmth is coursing through her, body alight, and she allows herself to kiss back with all the earnest longing she’s felt. Runs her fingers through Marianne’s hair.

It’s not her first kiss, but it feels like it all the others were practice.

Marianne pulls away and Monika doesn’t want to let her go, so presses forward and kisses her again. It’s more passionate now, and she feels Marianne smirking into it, feels her nipping at her lips, playful and teasing. Her cheeks are burning and she’s pressing her thighs tightly together.

It’s instinct more than anything else, and if she were in her right mind Monika would be horrified by her actions, but she isn’t, she’s nowhere near her right mind so her fingers grasp Marianne’s hair and angle her head in such a way that she can kiss her better. Ah, long hair, and silky soft, just how she imagined it.

She wants to grab pull Marianne closer, pull her right into her lap and press her tongue against the guillotine scar on her neck, to see if the texture of it is different. She wants to find out what other scars she has on her body and how each of them feel against her fingertips.

Monika kisses the side of her mouth, her cheek, her jaw. Marianne laughs, puts a hand on her shoulder and pushes her away half-heartedly. Her lips are very red, kiss-swollen and shiny with saliva, and Monika is not a pervert, she’s not, but it’s hard not to wonder what shade of pink her nipples are, and how she would taste between her legs.

“I’m going to leave now, but…” Marianne says with a sigh.

Monika takes it as her cue to stop kissing, stop touching her. She sits back in her seat and tries to distance herself from France, disentangle herself from the emotional intensity of this. She doesn’t trust her voice to respond, so she only nods.

France is looking at her like she’s studying her again. It’s embarrassing to be scrutinized like that, makes her want to fidget in her seat – which in turn makes her inseam of her pants rub against her, oh, she cringes at the feeling of that, how slick it is.

“…I think, next time we see each other, you shouldn’t let me.”

And she surges forward and presses a quick peck to Germany’s cheek, before getting out of the car herself and slamming going to her hotel. Germany follows her movement, the sparkle of her dress, the sway of her hips.

 

 


 

 

It’s all she can think about for days afterwards, for weeks even. Germany is known to be extremely serious and diligent about her work, so when Prussia catches her spacing out more than once, he starts asking her questions.

“What’s wrong with you? I thought you’re past the age of thinking about boys.”

But she’s not thinking about boys, she’s not even thinking about girls, about other girls, because that wouldn’t be satisfying. She’s thinking about France’s sparkling dress, about the smell of her when she was close, about how her blonde curls had felt between her fingers, about her skin.

She’s wakes up in the mornings with her comforter between her thighs, tightening around it. She forces herself out from between her sheets and spends the whole days feeling …on edge. She gets goosebumps when the wind ruffles her hair, she feels like squirming and fidgeting if she sits in one place for too long. There’s an intense awareness of her own body that wasn’t there before, in the way that fabric drags across her skin.

Germany feels empty headed and distracted, a combination that is so wildly out of character that it would frighten her, should she have enough mental energy to think about it for long. It’s difficult to concentrate on things, she’s…moody. Angry. Easily frustrated. Stomps around the house – and then it changes again.

And it’s not like she’s doesn’t know what’s wrong with her, because she knows. However, it’s too humiliating to think of herself as being too horny to function properly. She didn’t even go through this while being pimply teenager struggling with her sudden growth sprout. No, despite growing taller than her older brother seemingly overnight, those times had been manageable; unlike now when her inner peace was getting upturned by a French woman with pretty hair and sweet-smelling perfume that seemingly awoke a…a…need…that was never there before. Not like this.

Germany tries to ignore it, tries very, very hard. She doesn’t want to focus on the sensations and allow them to gather for too long. There’s a constant, slow simmering warmth that’s nestled right in her belly, and if she pays attention to it for more than a brief second, she’s in trouble. Not paying attention to it doesn’t mean it’s going away, it just means she’s not perceiving it as intensely as she would otherwise, though her body betrays her in new and exciting ways every day.

She undresses in her room and finds herself wet, like it’s a perpetual state of being these days, wet and frustrated and contemplating whether its ethical or not to masturbate thinking of her neighbor. It feels too much like a horny teenage boy, childish and perverted, and she’s too ashamed of herself to do it. She should be better than that! She should have better self-control, keep a tighter leash on her body’s whims! Disciple!  

There are moments when she can’t stand it anymore, that’s when she gives into it. Not directly, not like…she doesn’t touch herself, because that would be breaking a self-imposed limit. Instead, she rubs her thighs together, or she grinds against her pillows, keeps chasing sensations that are never enough. There’s a mounting high of feeling and warmth and then a thought enters her head, like “You shouldn’t be doing this, this is wrong, what would everyone else think if they saw you like this?”

Intrusive thoughts like that, and they break her out of the moment, ruin her concentration and just like that the build-up is gone. Lost. No breaking wave, no relief, just more of the same. It’s enough to have her whine in desperate frustration, all alone in her bedroom, heated skin and tense muscles, head empty and too full at the same time, swimming in half-formed thoughts that get drowned in the constant thrum.

It’s in those moments that she curses France for all that she’s worth, because surely this is her fault. It would be so much more comforting if she believed in magic, because then she could at least accuse France of being a witch that put a spell on her. Unfortunately, Germany’s too rational for that and she’s forced to admit that she’s the only one to blame, she’s too human, too greedy. Longing and yearning. Wants too much.

And there’s no way to teach herself how to let go, because this is beyond her rational mind, this is her body that’s flooding her with hormones and forcing her to submit to it. Need feels desperately vulnerable, even when there’s no one else to witness it.

 

 


 

 

The next time they see each other, it’s in Berlin. France is there with Monsieur Briand again, and they’re invited to stay with them at the Bellevue Palace. Germany can’t wrap her head around it, how will she be able to sleep when there’s only walls separating the two of them?

They spend their day in meetings, they dine together with their ministers and Germany goes back to her room alone. It feels surreal in how ordinary it is, as if something hasn’t shifted profoundly between the two of them since the last time they were alone together. The thought of that makes her mad, because she’s spent her days sitting close together with this woman that she’s been obsessing over for months, and it seems surreal that it would only be on her side. She’s not expecting some grand old romance, she’s not, she’s not that kind of girl, but – acknowledgement would do!

Germany’s been vibrating for the whole day, her body reacting to France’s proximity, making her want. Every time France moves, she catches the scent of her hair, her skin, her smoke – it makes her mouth water. After all that, she has to go to her room alone and she’s both disappointed and relieved with it.

Maybe this is what she needs to put the whole embarrassing affair out of her mind. Maybe this will convince her traitorous body that it’s not worth it to overwhelm her with hormones and torture her so much with thoughts of a woman that doesn’t want her back. Maybe she’ll finally be able to get a good night’s sleep without waking up in the middle of the night humping her comforter.

Honestly, it’s for the best. It’s not like Germany has time for this silly little schoolgirl crush!

There’s a knock on her door that brings her out of her self-pity and pacing. She braces herself to answer, expecting it to be Gilbert, and hoping

“Ah, Ma Cherie, don’t look so surprised. Were you not expecting me?” France tells her with a quirk of her lips.

And France invites herself into Monika’s space just like that, steps inside her room without being invited, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. Germany’s torn between wanting to kick her out and letting herself collapse into a mess of emotions. She’s too nervous to actually decide on the best course of action, and so she’s caught. Trapped.

It’s unfair because this is supposed to be her territory, her room, but France is walking around and analyzing things like a predator in assessing new hunting grounds.

“What are you doing here?” She manages to croak out, and France turns to her with flourish.

“Isn’t it obvious?” the other woman replies, with a raised eyebrow and opening her hands dramatically, as if showing off her beautifully embroidered dress, and… “I came here so you can take me out!” She states.

“Take you out?” Germany repeats it, feeling dumb, like she’s missing out on a part of the puzzle. “Why?”

“Well. Maybe because I’m bored here? Maybe because I want to see how you’re supposed to have fun around here?” her mouth is very red and mischievous, “Maybe I want to be wooed, have you considered that?” And the steps very close to Germany, and for a wild, breathtaking second she’s convinced she’s going to be kissed again, but she’s completely prepared for it. God, yes.

France doesn’t kiss her, though, she simply – hovers, like she knows that her presence is tantalizing enough. Minx.

Germany swallows thickly, and she takes France’s hand in hers with a boldness that doesn’t characterize her. Her hand is sweaty and slightly shaky, but France’s holds her hand all the same and allows her to lead her way. Germany thinks about how she was supposed to woo this woman.

“Where do you want to go?”

“Hmmm. I don’t care. You can take me anywhere.”

So Germany takes her dancing, to one of the cabarets where it’s not uncommon to see two women dancing together. She’s been to this type of place before, of course she has: the smoke is always thick, the lights and the music and the dancing make her dizzy. It’s not the sort of thing she does, Monika is too diligent with her work, she keeps her head down, she’s a dutiful young woman and she doesn’t engage with this sort of promiscuous habits, but…but

France is so much smaller than her, and the straps on her dress highlight her delicate shoulders, the dips of her collarbones. Her dress sparkles whenever the cabaret lights wash over her and she puts her bare arms around Germany’s neck, chest pressed forward, and asks:

“Can you dip me?”

So Monika’s palm is against the small of her back to steady her, and she holds France’s hand in hers as she dips her when the music swells. It takes the other woman by surprise because she starts laughing and she sounds delighted. It’s such a laugh too, open and warm and inviting, and she wants to feel it against her own lips more than she’s wanted anything else in recent memory.

There’s a hot blush spreading over her face, and a swooping feeling in her stomach. When she brings France back up, she pulls her closer than before, so close that they’re touching everywhere. There’s a part of her that feels she should be worried about how much she wants to touch France and how she feels like she shouldn’t – but it’s just not something she can concentrate on, not when there’s such a beautiful woman in her arms.

France raises herself on her tip toes and Germany stops breathing.

“You’re staring,” It’s not an accusation, it’s more teasing than that, but it’s whispered against the shell of her ear and it makes her shudder to feel it.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t…I…”

“It’s alright.”

And then it really doesn’t matter that they are in a crowd of people, even with the noise and the smoke and the other bodies. France’s fingers reach out to run through Germany’s short hair, smooths it back, away from her forehead. There’s something achingly tender on her face, in the softness of her mouth and her smooth cheeks. Her eyes shine brightly blue and so Germany thinks that she might understand, all of a sudden, why there’s so much poetry written about women just like this one.

France takes her by the hand, wordlessly, and she leads her through the crowd. Monika follows her without thinking, and she’s very happy about being led somewhere. Her head is full of static. She’s holding her hand as they go to the coatroom and France is asking for their outwear.

And Germany isn’t sure what’s happening.

“Are we leaving already?” She asks, and then she almost winces at the palpable disappointment in her voice. It’s not like she enjoys this kind of space, but

“Hmmm. Do you want to stay longer?” And with that she turns her back to Monika, walks out into the Berlin night. There’s no choice but to follow her. As she steps outside, the cold hits her face, shaking her out of her spell.

Germany falls into step next to France. On her right side, to be precise, because between the two of them, France is clearly the gracious lady so it’s Germany’s duty to take up the role of the gentleman, is it not? But a gentleman would know what to say to her, and it’s woefully clear that she’s nothing but a tongue-tied girl.

She doesn’t know what to say. What is she supposed to ask? How was she supposed to frame this?

Did you have a good time?
What do you want to do now?

Did you want to leave because you wanted to be away from me? Did I make you uncomfortable?

She bites the inside of her cheek.

France stops in the middle of the sidewalk and takes a cigarette out of her purse to put it between her lips. Monika doesn’t smoke, but she keeps a lighter in her pocket when she’s around France, just so she can light her cigarettes for her. She takes note of the little shadows that form on France’s face over the glow of the flame.

“Marianne, I….” but she can’t get more than that out. She wants to say something, but everything sounds silly. Too needy. Too presumptuous.

“I had a good time with you,” France says, and it cuts through the fog, makes her breathe out in relief.

“I’m glad, I…” she sighs. Monika looks down at her feet, shuffles awkwardly.

France smirks and grabs her arm. She pressed herself close and settles her chin on Monika’s shoulder.

“I feel I’ve been sufficiently wooed.”

“Oh. I…I mean…I…”

“I think you should take me back now, back to your house.” She looks at from between lowered lashes,  “You can take me to bed.” France whispers, and the words have the effect of a weapon, making her knees weak and cutting off her balance.

“When you say I can take you to bed…” she feels like she needs to clarify this so there’s no misunderstanding, considering the fact that she’s already turning to mush inside at the hypothetical possibility of having her for herself.

As a response, France presses a quick kiss against the side of her jaw. She doesn’t say anything else, but she puts one of her hands inside Monika’s coat pockets, lacing their fingers together and squeezing.

 

 


 

 

They ride the U-Bahn for as many stations as they can. France confesses she’s fascinated with the concept of underground trains, but she rarely uses her own Parisian metro system.

“It’s more fun to do it with someone else,” she explains, and leans into Monika. It’s quite late – or alternatively, it’s quite early –there’s very few people around to look at them. Even so, tall and broad-shouldered Monika, with her hat and suits and trench-coat, doesn’t look out of place with a woman hanging off her arm. “If not, it feels quite lonely.”

France is clingy and affectionate in ways that Monika isn’t used to. She opens her fur coat, takes Monika’s hand and presses it against her thigh. She takes this as permission to play with the embroidery on her dress as they ride the train, running her fingers over the beautiful glass beads of her dress. It feels like a secret between them, and it’s nice.

They don’t talk to each other when they reach the Bellevue Palace. They walk through the halls together and when they reach the living quarters, Monika pauses, uncertain. Where is she supposed to take France?

Sensing her indecision, the woman turns to look at her.

“You can take me to your room.” She says with a smile.

Her room.

How grown up. She’s not the kind that has people in her room for nefarious purposes, she never allows herself to be loud even when she’s alone, always self-conscious about the idea of someone hearing her. What if her brother would hear? But, she takes France to her room anyways, opens the room and allows the other to step in front of her.

Earlier in the evening, when France took her by surprise, she would have been willing to do anything without notice. Now, all the anticipation seems to have made her movement sluggish, she’s second guessing herself and really

Can France tell she’s nervous?
Is it obvious on her face?
What if it’s misinterpreted as not wanting to?

This was so much easier in the half-formed fantasies in her head, where she was confident and cool and could sweep France off her feet.

The fur coat is taken off and set aside, same for Monika’s trench coat. There’s about half-beat of awkwardness in which Monika wonders “what now?” , but it doesn’t end up getting vocalized because France walks over to her and crowds her against the wall.

France looks her directly in the eyes as she moves in to kiss her. It’s agonizingly slow, as slow as you would approach a spooked out rabbit, but when their lips are just a hairbreadth shy away from touching hers, she closes her eyes and sighs. Relieved. Like she’s waited for this and wasn’t quite sure she would be allowed to.

What a thought. Who would deny her?

France kisses her and she feel a wave of warmth spreading through her body. It’s a kiss that starts tentative and soft, just lips moving against each other, until she wants more, until France wants more. Mouths open and she tastes like smoke.

There’re small, steady hands touching her, dragging over her jaw, her throat, her collarbone, her chest. She’s opening the buttons of Germany’s shirt and pushing it off her shoulders.

“Don’t be shy now.” She says it as she’s sucking kisses over Monika’s skin, “I want to see what you’re hiding under those suits,”

There’s a protest in the back of her mind, some weak resistance forming there because they shouldn’t, should they? She’s never thought about things this far, never really considered –

Ah! You bit me.” She says, startled. France laughs and bites her shoulder again, pinches one of her nipples at the same time, making her gasp.

“But it seems you like it!”

A horrible, horrible woman. Her face is burning, her whole body is, but for different reasons. France, at least, takes pity on her and kisses her again. Deliberate and confident, with her tongue licking inside, making all the thoughts melt from her head.  She pulls away and Germany is left dazed.

France’s teeth close around a nipple, biting and then sucking, and Germany’s fingers tighten in her hair as her back arches off the wall. She’s breathing heavily now, panting. If she were in charge of herself, she’d be embarrassed with her reactions. How lewd.

When France reaches between her legs and rubs through the layers of clothing, there’s a bone-deep shudder going through her.

“Oh, you poor girl, you…” France’s voice is breathless, and she hurries to open Germany’s pants and pushes them over her thighs. Runs her fingertips over her folds. Gasps, excited, “You’re so wet,” and she’s grinning like a hungry wolf, “You’re so wet for me,” and she kisses her again, quick and hard and full of fire.

She thinks she’d do whatever France wants, if only she’d keep kissing her and touching her and…and….

France’s dress is full of beads, and the fringe clings together, it makes a very distinct sound when she moves, when she kneels in front of Germany and presses her mouth over her cunt without hesitation. Knocks the air out of her lungs. France’s tongue dips between her lips, licks her opening, tongue-fucks her. Her thighs are shaking. She wants to grab onto something, but the wall won’t offer purchase.

Instead, France grabs her hand and laces their fingers together. It makes her look down, to see beautiful blue eyes looking up at her, mischievous. She’s licking her like she’s dripping honey, and Germany’s struggling not to be too loud, because what if someone hears, what if…

“Your pussy’s so pretty,” God, don’t say that, “And you taste so good,” I don’t believe that, I…

France pushes two fingers inside her and crooks them, making her shout. Her chest hurts, her body’s full of fire. France keeps doing that, with her fingers, and her tongue, sucking her on her clit and swirling her tongue around it.

“Wait - Marianne, I…Ah.”

But France doesn’t stop and Germany doesn’t want her too, but she feels like she’s walking the edge of a tightrope and she’s going to fall any minute. A desperate sense of urgency makes her rock forward, grinding against France’s tongue, and oh, she wants to feel bad about that, it’s so rude, but she can’t help herself.

The tension inside her just builds, builds, builds, and then it finally, finally, wonderfully breaks, and she’s spasming and twitching and pulsing inside, her hips rolling, her heart wild. France keeps her steady, keeps the same rhythm until she starts coming down. Then, her lips and her tongue are gentle, kissing and nuzzling softly until Germany’s trembling from it.

France pulls away only to press kisses over jutting hipbones, press her cheek against Germany’s belly. Her breath shudders.

Germany’s senses are dull and hazy, and her head is a mess. France gets up from her kneeling position and takes her hand. She guides her to the bed and makes her sit on the covers, bends over her and kisses her easily. Germany tastes herself on France’s tongue and feels dirty doing it, obscene. Not the kind of thing that nice girls do.

“Help me undress, come on.” France guides her hands to the hem of her dress. Germany raises it up, over her thighs, her hips, her breast. She tries to keep her hands proper, but they skim over curves and skins and soft, it takes a lot of self-control not to linger.

France’s undergarments are crepe de chine, smooth to the touch and sheer. They’re peachy-pink, and her nipples are dark underneath. Germany’s mesmerized by them, but when the other woman undresses completely, she feels like averting her gaze.

No matter how much she thought about it, how bold she’d been in the fantasies that popped into her head – the reality of it is different. Somehow France’s naked body feels like too much, like she shouldn’t be allowed to look at her for too long.

Germany’s body wasn’t a sexual thing, it wasn’t meant to entice. She always thought of herself as practical, her body a useful tool and nothing more – but France wasn’t like that. Marianne glided instead of walking, she slithered and coiled. So tempting.

“Do you want to touch?” She asks, as France takes her by the wrist and places her palm against her breast. “Here, you can touch me.” Her voice is encouraging.

The flesh against Germany’s palm is soft and pillowy, nipple hard and poking stubbornly, like it’s asking for her attention. Fuck.

God.

She’s never thought this out.

It’s been a dramatically long time since Monika touched another human in a remotely sexual manner, but even that passing experience just leaves her completely. Desperate fumblings with another girl without even undressing each other is not the same thing as having the Country of Love naked and willing in front of you.

Taking a deep breath, she tells herself that it’s worse to just sit there uselessly, so she looks up at France and meets her eyes. Gives her breast an experimental squeeze and flicks her fingertip over her nipple. Pinches it, to test how firm it feels, and it makes France gasp.

“You don’t have to be that careful with me, you know.” She says with a chuckle.

“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with you,” Germany tells her. It’s honest, and it’s the best she can do for herself.

“Haven’t you been with anyone else before?” France puts a knee on the bed between Monika’s open thighs, and puts her arms around her shoulders. Runs her fingers through her hair. 

“I have, but it was right after the war. There hasn’t been anyone since then.”

She thinks about Feliciano and Alfred, and trying to kiss them just to gauge her own interest in men. Alfred had been stunned but went along with it until it was quite clear that both were not interested – sometimes he jokes about it because Alfred is charming when he wants to, though naturally he’s crass and lacks any finesse.

Feliciano was another story all together – Monika will never be able to forget the disappointment on his face after he kissed her, expecting that it would awake some long forgotten memory, and realizing there was nothing there on her side. There was no moment. It was just a kiss from a boy she maybe liked – but they never spoke about it ever again.

She doesn’t want to think about that at all.

 “Since the war - ” France is incredulous, “No wonder you were so tightly wound up.” It makes her blush.

“There were girls I liked, but we rarely…” She trails off.

“Well, it’s not a problem. I’ll tell you how I like it, alright?” France’s voice is smooth and very soothing. It makes her feel warm on the inside, makes Monika a bit reckless – she presses her face against her breast, nuzzles, inhales the scent of her.

“What do you like, then? Tell me.” She dares to poke out her tongue and lick at her skin. She doesn’t taste different from anyone else.

“I like things a bit rough, I supposed – I like it when people bite,” so Germany takes the instruction to heart and closes her teeth around her nipple, just a little bit of pressure. The reaction is instant, France moans, “Yes, just like that.”

Her body is very inviting, with warm, supple skin that blushes red when kissed and sucked on. She makes noises too, France is very vocal about the things she likes and encouraging in the way she cradles Germany’s head, runs her fingers through short, sweaty hair.

There’s scars on Marianne’s body like embroidery on her skin. There’s revolutions, wars, the trenches dug across her back. She’s touches them with her fingers first, and then she grows bolder, pressing her lips and her tongue over the marks. It’s skin, it’s just skin, but those places were wounds once, they mark a thousand deaths – she thinks it would be fitting if she tasted like blood, like iron, like deceptively sweet power that’s meant to get you drunk.

When France lays on the bed, she hikes her legs over Germany’s shoulders and pulls her in. She’s glistening wet, and Monika kisses her first, licks her with the flat of her tongue, loves how she’s able to make her gasp in pleasure. France - Marianne,  - you can call a country by her human name when your face is between her legs, right? – her hips move against Monika’s face, she tells her when she’s supposed to suck, when she’s supposed to speed up.

“Please put your fingers inside, please, please, please.” And then she gasps, “Yes, like that, just like that, good girl.”

Marianne cups the back of Monika’s head, moans loudly and arches. She heaps praise onto her as she’s coming undone, tells how good it feels, how much she likes it, how perfect Monika’s mouth feels. It gets to her head a little, truth be told, and with Marianne’s sounds urging her on, she finds that she cannot keep her hips under control. She keeps grinding against the sheets, like she does when she’s alone, like she does when she tries to find some sort of relief. Marianne, the taste of her, the smell of her, the feeling of being so close – it’s intoxicating in ways that are hard to express.

When she’s satisfied, Marianne pulls her up by the hair so they can kiss. Monika’s mouth, her nose, her chin: she’s all wet and she thinks, I would never have allowed myself to imagine this.  

“Ah, what are you doing there, dear?” Marianne asks her with a lazy smirk, the flush of afterglow still warm on her cheeks. “Did you like doing that? Did it get you excited again?” and with that, she reaches between Monika’s spread legs to touch her again, thumb pressing against her clit.

She gasps and wants to flinch away – it hurts a little, she’s so sensitive there, and the rough sheets she’s been grinding against made her feel raw.

“Do you want me to help?”

“What sort of question is that?” She’s meant to sound outraged by the shamelessness of it, but instead it comes off as being whiny.

Her head hits the pillow when France pushes her over and keeps her thighs parted. It feels quite vulnerable, exposed in the most basic way possible. She wants to hide her face in her hands, but at the same time – France said she wanted to see her, France wanted to force vulnerability onto her, didn’t she? And Monika wants to show her that she can be that, she can be good for the unspoken command of it, she wants France to see….

See what? Something desirable, possibly. Probably. She wants Marianne to find her desirable and worthy of praise. The feeling is startlingly new.

“What do you want me to do? You haven’t answered me, you know.” France’s voice is teasing and very mischievous, and she bends over to take one of Germany’s nipples in her mouth. Sucks and flicks her tongue against it.

“Do I…” shit, a moan and a gasp, she can’t keep them in, “do I have to?”

“Hmmm, yes. I think you do.”

France’s voice sounds like a purring cat, self-satisfied and playful.  Bites and kisses down Monika’s chest, her abdomen. Leaves marks on her body, on the skin of her thighs. They’re already starting to form, oh God, she’s going to have bruises for days.

“I don’t want to,” She protests.

France spreads her folds with her fingers and presses kiss against her clit. Makes her gasp.

“Ah, come one, Cherie. Be good for me, won’t you? Tell me what you want me to do you.”

Oh, that makes her feel soft, it makes her look away from France’s beautiful face and the shine in her eyes, because she’s afraid her face is going to betray her.

“I want to…I want you to…”

Please, dear. Say please.”  And she pinches her nipple.

“Please.” The word comes out angry, gasping and annoyed. Germany scrunches her nose, grits her teeth and  “I want you to please lick me.” It’s as straightforward and it can be, but instead of listening to her, France licks the inside of her thigh, which is….alright, but not what she wanted or needed.  

Like this?

“No, not like…”

“But, my dear, you weren’t being clear at all!” France laughs, and Germany’s thighs are pretty strong, she’s sure she could strangle her, but….”You have to say, Marianne, please lick my pretty pussy.”

“No, I am not saying that.” And she means to be decisive, but then then other woman smirks and lowers her face between her thighs.  Her lips are so close to where Germany wants them, she’s so close, and she can feel her breath, she can feel herself getting wetter just from this, from the promise of it...

“So you don’t want to me go on?” she asks, and looks at up at Germany. Her nose is pressed against her mound and she nuzzles. Monika bites her lip and lip and looks away, and….and….it’s not big deal, right? It’s just words?

“Marianne, please lick my…” but she can’t force out more than that.

In response, Marianne drags her tongue over Monika’s slit, making her shudder.

“A little more, dear. Come on, I know you can do it.” The evil succubus smirks, and Monika feels her lips moving against her cunt as she’s talking, “ask me nicely.” 

Her nails clench in the pillow under her head. It’s just something France wants to hear, after all. And there’s a thrill to it, a tremulous sort of wonder at the idea of asking for something so obscene in the filthiest way possible.

Please lick my pretty pussy,” she says it hurriedly so the words don’t have to linger in her mouth, and instead she’s rewarded with what she wanted. Marianne’s lips around her clit and her finger inside her.

God, yes, thank you.

Marianne makes her come so many times during the night that by the time the sun starts raising, she’s so completely, utterly spent she doesn’t think she’ll ever want to have sex again. Marianne lays down next to her, on the same pillow, and she runs her fingers over Monika’s face in a gentle caress.

 


 

She sleeps right through the morning and wakes up in a daze, with Prussia banging on her front door and scolding her for it. She’s never been late to anything in her life, so it’s mortifying to have to explain to him that she’s overslept, without being able to give him a reason for it.

He brushes off her excuses and tells her to just get dressed already, so at least it’s an averted crisis. However, it leaves her to deal with the other, menacing crunch of emotions in her stomach, the fact that she’s aware she woke up alone and that Mari…-France is nowhere to be seen. There’s a growing sense of rejection in her stomach that she knows has no business being there.

What did you think? That she’s going to feel the same way about you?

It’s very silly of her, she knows it, but she can’t help herself from feeling melancholic about it. Germany gets dressed, goes downstairs and eats breaksfast in the kitchen with the staff, because she missed the formal one, and because it’s better here, anyways, it’s cozier and the cooks know they’re supposed leave her in peace while she’s munching on her Butterbrot.

France and her end up intersecting throughout the day, because that’s what happens when you’re in meetings with the coworkers you regretfully slept a night before. She’s looking as lovely as ever while making your chest hurt and your stomach filled with butterflies at her mere presence. Germany simply chooses not to look at her, because she’s so painfully aware she may end up staring.

If anyone suspects something is wrong with her mood, they don’t call her out on it. It’s a small blessing. They let her be silent, staring at her fidgeting thumbs and occasionally stealing glances in France’s direction. Never at her directly, though.

This morning when she got dressed, she couldn’t help but touch all the love bites on her chest and thighs. She pushed her fingers against them until she felt them sting slightly, and despite thinking she had enough sex to last her a good long while, it appeared not to be the case. As soon as she saw the signs on France’s affections littered all over her skin, she was once again shamelessly yearning, and –

Somehow, she gets through the day, though it’s hard and she’s emotionally exhausted. Germany tells herself she’ll take a small break and goes in the study. It’s small and dark and full of books, very comforting to her senses. She sits on her two seater and lets her head fall back against the back pillows.

It’s alright if she doesn’t want anything more from you. She doesn’t owe you affection.

But even as she hides away in her little sanctuary, she’s still not safe because France finds her and barges in without knocking, startling her from her peace. Her silhouette against the door frame, framed by light coming from the hallway. There’s a small moment of awkwardness in which neither of them say anything – France looks annoyed, but she sighs, rolls her eyes and steps inside. Closes the door behind her and looks down Germany with her arms crossed over her chest.

She’s not very effective at looming. France is much shorter, and even like this, Germany fails to be intimidated when she knows she’s more than a head taller. But she looks up at France and meets her eyes, and it reminds her of last night and how France made her say all those embarrassing things, oh God, and that makes her look away. Her face is burning.

“Oh, mon Dieu, you’re such a strange girl, aren’t you?” France sounds exasperated, and she sits next to Monika with a huff. “I was ready to be upset with you for running away from me, but I don’t think you were doing it on purpose!”

“What are you talking about?”

“It doesn’t matter,” France sighs and grabs her chin, pulls her face towards her and says, “Look at me, dear.” There’s a command in her voice and Germany has to obey it.

France’s face softens when she looks her at her, the lines around her mouth relax and she breathes out. She closes her eyes and leans forward, pressing her forehead against Germany’s, rubbing their noses together. Her hands settle on the side of Germany’s throat, thumbs brushing against her jaw.

And Monika’s heart is beating wildly, but it’s not unpleasant, on the contrary – her heart is going crazy, but her body relaxes, tension smooths out.

France kisses the side of her mouth, a short, sweet peck, then her chin, tips her head back and kisses her throat. She’s wearing lips so she’s leaving marks, but Germany can’t complain. Instead, she does what she’s wanted to do for such a long time, puts her arms around France’s middle and pulls her in her lap.

“I like you,” France tells her, giggling, between kisses. She’s holding on, arms around Monika’s shoulders.

Later that night, France follows her back to her room. Somehow, it’s so much better the second the time around, because now it’s not a one time deal, it’s a repeat, it’s doing it again, it’s establishing a pattern. This time she know how France likes to be touched, and she’s getting better at it, it’s easier to make her come because she’s already got the basics down.

Then, after Marianne falls asleep next to her, she stays awake for a long time because her mind won’t let her rest. She drifts off restlessly at some point, but find herself blinking awake when the sun is rising and casting a glowing light inside her room.

France’s golden hair shines with the early morning sun, and Germany’s understanding clicks into place and she gets it – the thing about art and poetry and Turandokt, what Austria and Italy have been trying to tell her.

There’s a sense of dread that accompanies the realization, a certain future of doom that seems to linger beyond it.

She reaches out a hand a run her finger over Marianne’s face, over her cheeks, her brows, her eyelids. The woman blinks awake and Germany would apologize for waking, but it’s makes her chest tight and her breath hitch when France looks at her and smiles. She’s sleepy and she has pillow lines on her face.

“Hello,” she whispers as a greeting.

And really it doesn’t matter beyond that.