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29 January 2010 @ 10:16 pm
Fanfic: The Virtue of Lost Days  
Title: The Virtue of Lost Days
Author:  heavyarms
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Prussia x Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, vague Luxembourg and the Netherlands
Rating: PG
Warnings: possible inaccuracies, grammatical errors, use of human names
Summary: A lack for something requires a special kind of subtlety.
Author's Notes: Any mistakes, historical/cultural inaccuracies are all mine. Please to ignore the notes at the end of this fic if you are in fact Belgian. Originally written for the 2009 Giftfic Exchange, for soukei , with some editing.

* Émilie =Belgium; Andries=The Netherlands; Niko=Luxembourg

The Virtue of Lost Days

“I know not, wherefore, dearest love,
Thou often art so strange and coy
When ‘mongst man’s busy haunts we move,
Thy coldness puts to flight my joy.
But soon as night and silence round us reign,
I know thee by thy kisses sweet again!”

~Proximity, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Not long before, Émilie had admitted to knowing about Gilbert’s affections, and had—to the astonishment of the entire EU, Ludwig especially—returned these affections with equal force.

When her brothers later demanded that she explain herself, she shrugged and muttered something about being bored. Andries and Niko were understandably dissatisfied with the answer, and pestered her to the best of their ability, quitting only when it went on for the better part of a month.

Resigned to the stubbornness of their sister, they shrugged and assured themselves that the girl was merely struck with a passing fancy, born perhaps of the conflicts, however subtle, between the Flemish and the Walloons. Émilie had no recourse, they decided. She was a girl, and naturally members of her sex were given to fancies. And what better fancy is there than literature? She must feel the lack of it most acutely.

Émilie, for her part, bore these insinuations in silence, except in the company of Gilbert. Whenever they—she, anyway—had time for themselves, Émilie would confide her many dilemmas, be it internal or external affairs, to the former nation. Gilbert, with the small bird on his head, would listen to her with a comical smile, and meet her arguments with rebuttals of his own.

It was during these times that Émilie was able to perceive the finer points of the German’s character. He was loud, arrogant, crude, along with plenty of other unflattering descriptions—all of which were disappointingly accurate. He would counter her most heated arguments with either jokes or promises of solving her problems with his innate “awesomeness.” She would, in response, throw any one of his stuffed animals left carelessly about, in an anger that dissolved with that gratingly self-assured smile. In a visibly cheerful mood, he would then tell her that she hit him harder than Erzsébet ever could.

She decided to take that as a compliment.

She saw Gilbert peering from a crack in the door—it was by chance that she looked away, since Francis and Arthur were having their usual pre-meeting squabble—but decided not to call attention to it.

Later, when the meeting was adjourned, she approached Francis and asked about the strange albino with the small yellow bird. She had seen him a few times before, but had been too busy to care.

Francis smiled and rubbed his chin. “Ah, my dear, why would you ask of him when you have me? I know that look—very well. Monsieur Beillschmidt is the most—how shall I put it?—the most uncultured boor you will ever meet.”

To be sure, Francis’s description was not entirely inaccurate. But Belgians weren’t gourmets like the French—they were gourmands—good food in hearty excess. And the Prussian probably liked drinking games too.


Émilie lived, as was appropriate, in Brussels, so that it would be more convenient for her to participate in the nation’s administrative affairs. This Christmas, however, promised to be stable for, at the very least, the entire duration of the holiday. Accordingly, she went to Liége to spend a short vacation.

Considering the usual flurry of activity associated with politics and diplomacy, one would find it curious that she should depart for the metropolis, instead of one of the quainter regions. She wouldn’t have chosen such a destination, however Gilbert tended to be quite restless if they went to a sleepy little village instead of a bustling metropolis.

She had a small, comfortable apartment there, which she and her brothers would spend their vacations. Surely, Andries and Niko wouldn’t mind it if she invited Gilbert over during one of the family get-togethers, although she would never admit to anyone that the fact that they would was mostly the point of having her boyfriend come over. She was used to conflicts, anyway.

“Oh ye kindly nymphs, who dwell ‘mongst the rocks and the thickets,
Grant unto each whatsoe’er he may in silence desire!”

Émilie stopped at the rough voice. Nothing sounded stranger.

“Remember that?” Gilbert asked smugly. He stood outside in his trench coat as she opened her front door.

She gave him a small smile, then tossed her head to the side. “’Guess I am feeling bored today.”

Gilbert feigned a hurt expression, then followed it with an easy smile. “All ready to go?”

She nodded, joined him outside.

“When are your brothers coming?” he asked her, as they walked to the local chocolatier.

“This evening.”

He chuckled, and feeling that he should be a dutiful boyfriend, added, “Relax, I’ll behave.” She stared at him incredulously, he stared back with a cheeky smile, then both burst out laughing, startling passerby.

“That was a good one,” Émilie said, regaining her composure.

Gilbert winked. “Either way, you’ll have an awesome Christmas with me around.”

“You’ll have an awesome time with me around!” Gilbert assured her, when they officially began dating. Émilie laughed at that, and challenged him to a drinking game.

She won, and celebrated her victory with a very satisfying belch.He found it very attractive.

“Why did she pick you?” Andries demanded, all brotherly concern.

“She is quite a catch, no? My friend, you must tell me your secret,” Francis purred. Antonio just gave Gilbert a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’ve seen her at one of those EU meetings, West,” he explained.

You snuck in?” Ludwig exclaimed, then began a tedious lecture. Gilbert felt assured of his little brother’s approval.

Pierre Marcolini’s was an elegant store, with light suffusing from glass panels, contrasted with muted earth tones. The store had a rather impersonal air about it—small pieces of fine chocolates and other confections were arranged within glass cases, as if each were a precious gem put out for the eyes to behold, yet remaining coyly overpriced.

Émilie tightened her grip on Gilbert’s elbow before the Prussian could voice his boredom in his usual delicate manner.

“You know, we could just go to the nearest pub,” he suggested, grunting from the pressure.

Émilie scoffed. “We need a bit of culture in our party too, you know.”

“Niko would’ve agreed to it.”

“He’s got a long history of winemaking,” she pointed out.

“That wine bastard got to him too?”

She sighed and released him. Gilbert walked over to some displays as Émilie went to the counter.

They make them with tea now? he wondered, staring at a set of Thé Earl Grey chocolates. He sniffed, caught a variety of exotic scents.

He straightened, looked back to where Émilie was bent over some of the pralines behind the glass counter.

“They are made with beans from Trinidad,” the storekeeper informed her as he gestured to some pieces. Gilbert was surprised at how serious she looked in selecting the confections.

“I need something a little bitter,” Émilie told the storekeeper.

“Ah, then the Poivre Long or the Gingembre might interest you.” He was about to say more when Émilie held her hand up, and motioned for him to whisper to her. Gilbert watched them curiously, and strode over to the counter as the storekeeper went to retrieve the chocolates.

“What’s with that funny look?” Gilbert asked her.

“Nothing,” Émilie said innocently, but he noticed that unmistakable quirk of her lips which told him that all was not well.

The storekeeper returned with two boxes and placed them on the counter. One contained little chocolate rectangles sprinkled with reddish flakes, and the other contained unassuming squat, cylindrical pieces. Both emanated questionable odors.

Émilie smiled sweetly at Gilbert. “What do you think?”

When Gilbert opened his mouth to speak she promptly popped a rectangular one into his mouth. He gagged a little, but didn’t dare spit it out on account of the dangerous look Émilie was giving him. He chewed it gingerly, thoughtfully.

Émilie watched him with pure delight in her eyes. “Well?”

He gulped a little. “What’s in it?”

“It’s infused with pepper,” the storekeeper told him.

Gilbert, with his mouth half-full of bitter ganache and Indian pepper, thought, in that brief moment, of culture, of food, and of how unschooled he was in these areas, and how Émilie, even in her confident and cheerful attitude, could have a taste as discerning as Francis. His eyes watered as he slowly gulped the rest of the chocolate, looking a tad unwell as he stared into his girlfriend’s eyes.

“How is it?” Émilie asked, giving him a worried look.

Without a word, Gilbert deftly snatched the other chocolate and popped it into his mouth.


Too proud even to admit to some culture, eh? Émilie thought wryly as both exited the premises. Gilbert carried several boxes of Marcolini chocolate, most of them with rather exotic flavors. She snickered.

“I don’t get how you could be so selective about ‘em. They’re all pretty damn awesome!” he exclaimed heartily, nibbling onto a piece.

She smiled proudly. “We do make the best chocolates.”

“Careful, or Vash will hear you,” he quipped, then breathed in the cool December air. “Say, there a pub around here, or what?”

Émilie nudged him. “We’ve still got a lot of shopping to do before we get home. But,” she paused, stared at the boxes in his arms, at him, then smiled. “We could go to a brewery next.”

“Dammit woman! That hurt!” Gilbert had said after removing his stuffed panda from his face.

Émilie laughed. “Oh, the big, scary Prussian man can’t take a little rough play?”

He laughed. “You think this is rough? Fourteen-ten, Battle of Grunwald.”

“You lost that one!” she retorted playfully, clocking him with another stuffed panda.

“Hey!” He stood up, picked up his pandas, and strode out of the living room, muttering something about not giving her any more ammo.

Émilie stayed on the couch. Her home’s environmental concerns didn’t seem to bother her as much now.

“Gilbert? Are you home?” Ludwig called out, entering the living room.

“He’s just putting his dolls away,” Émilie replied, knowing full well how silly that sounds, and not caring in the least.

“What a mess,” he said, and proceeded to rearrange the couch pillows, neaten the curtains, right the upturned vase on the coffee table, collate the newspapers scattered all over the floor. “What have you two been doing?”

Émilie blushed in embarrassment. “Just playing around.”

At Ludwig’s horrified look she quickly added, “We were just playing with his dolls.”

Ludwig’s expression relaxed into one of indifference, and Émilie noted that he must be used to such childishness by now. He continued cleaning in silence, as she sat in her spot on the couch, fidgeting at the silence.

“Look at that. He should take better care of my books,” Ludwig muttered, fishing out a dog-eared copy of Goethe’s poetry from under the couch.

“He’s a great writer, right?” Émilie said. “In German?”

“He’s made important contributions to German Literature.”

Émilie thought about the folk tales Andries used to tell her and Niko when they were very little. She was too old for them now.

“Gilbert reads poetry?” she questioned him.

“Some time when I joined the EU. He was bored at home.”

The La Batte open air market was predictably noisy, but Émilie thought that it would be a treat to bring him there, since it had a great variety of world cuisine. And Gilbert seemed more at home in that noisy, crowded place. It was the closest thing, she believed, to fighting in the battlefield.

“What’re we gonna buy here? We’ve got everything we need,” Gilbert said, looking at the packages and parcels of beer, chocolates, sausages, and various other delicacies.

She grinned. “Hey Gilbert.”

He looked at her quizzically. “What?”

“Recite that poem for me.”

He blinked. “What poem?”

She laughed, pecked him on the cheek. “You know, that one you used to flirt with me. The only poem you ever bothered to learn.”

He raised an eyebrow, smiling. “In this racket?”

Especially in this racket.”

“Oh ye kindly nymphs, who dwell ‘mongst the rocks and thickets,
Grant unto each whatsoe’er he may in silence desire!
Comfort impart to the mourner, and give to the doubter instruction,
And let the lover rejoice, finding the bliss that he craves.
For from the gods ye received what they ever denied unto mortals,
Power to comfort and aid all who in you may confide.”

...the entire EU: the European Union’s headquarters is based in the Belgian capital, Brussels.
...the Flemish and the Walloons: these are two major language groups in Belgium (Flemish=Dutch, Walloon=French), and were at odds with each other because of their cultural differences.
...She must feel the lack of it most acutely: because their main languages are either in Dutch or French, attributing certain writings to the nation is difficult, thus there is no such thing as Belgian literature.
...than Erzsébet ever could: this is how I choose to spell Hungary’s name.
...when you have me?: a good portion of Belgium is French-speaking, after all.
...good food in hearty excess: as Wikipedia says, “Belguim serves food of French quality in German quantities” (Michael Jackson's Great Beers of Belgium, Michael Jackson, ISBN 0-7624-0403-5).
...instead of a bustling metropolis: Liége is the industrial powerhouse of Wallonia, the French-speaking region.
...he may in silence desire!: an excerpt from Goethe’s Solitude.
...Pierre Marcolini’s: a chocolatier with rather interestingly-flavored pralines.
...long history of winemaking: since Roman times.
...Thé Earl Grey... Poivre Long...Gingembre: all pralines made by Marcolini.
...Battle of Grunwald: detailed in one of the Hetalia strips.
...bother her as much now: Belgium has a large population density, which is dangerous to its ecosystem.
...La Batte: a huge outdoor market where they sell a great variety of things, though it’s more famous for selling world cuisine.
...aid all who in you may confide: the full version of Goethe’s Solitude.

Sources other than Wikipedia:
Belguim. Singapore: APA Publications, 2005.
“Introduction to Belgium.” Belgium. interKnowledge Corp., 2005. Web. 21 Dec 2009.
“Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.” famous quotes. Famous Poets And Poems.com, 2009. Web. 21 Dec 2009.
“La Batte.” Market/Flea Market: Markets. Office de Promotion du Tourisme de Wallonie et de Bruxelles, n.d. Web. 22 Dec 2009.
“Liége Shopping.” Virtual Tourist. VirtualTourist.com, Inc., 2009. Web. 22 Dec 2009.
“Pierre Marcolini, Chocolatier.” Marcolini. Brussels export, n.d. Web. 21 Dec 2009.
Current Music: Raison d'être~交差する宿命~ - Zektbach
Kazuko: amused kittykakkobean on January 29th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
*flails* It's fantastic 8333
♛↠Dark Lady in Training: Seychelles & Mochimericaheavyarms on January 30th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, thank you!<333

BTW, epic icon there.