“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” -Ernest Hemingway
Pre-war; September 1939 to June 1940
“What do you mean, he broke the terms?” the blond snapped. “He couldn’t have! Our sanctions on him are far too strict.”
“Be as that may. Hitler is rearming Germany,” the other man replied.
The first man narrowed his bright green eyes. “Hitler is hardly the ‘he’ I meant.”
England looked at France and America, eyes blazing. “Under Adolf Hitler, Germany is rearming. He is breaking the terms of the treaty, and we can’t appease him forever.”
France frowned, not really wanting to agree with England, but finding he had no choice. They had to stop Germany.
Germany stood in front of the Reichstag, looking out over the square before him. Everywhere red, white, and black banners flew, showing clearly the country’s new dedication to its ruling National Socialist Party-the Nazi party.
A smaller man stepped up beside him. This man was the savior of Germany, both the man himself and the country he personified. He had promised an end to the humiliation imposed by England, France, and America following the Great War, he had promised an end to the monstrous inflation and economic woes, and he had promised a new dawn of hope for Germany.
“Good morning, Adolf,” Germany said calmly, using the familiar version of his new boss’ name. Adolf Hitler may have been his boss, but he was also one of the first to recognize Germany’s power and potential as the personification of a nation.
“It is a good morning, indeed,” Hitler replied, casting his gaze out across the square in satisfaction. “Wonderful to see our people embracing the new ideals of our party and country.”
Germany nodded, agreeing. He would prove to those other nations that he was a force to be reckoned with.
“Germany invaded Poland,” France announced, and England looked up in shock.
“What are you doing here, frog?” he demanded.
France waved a hand airily. “Never mind that. Did you hear the news, Angleterre? Germany invaded Poland.”
England blanched. “Oh god. I...I can’t stand for this!”
France nodded. “This--this means war.”
Despite not wanting to agree with France, England nodded. “I’m going to Parliament. I am going to declare war on Germany.”
He was officially at war. He had invaded Poland and now England and France had declared war on him. They only cared because he had attacked that worthless lowlife who couldn’t even decide if he was male or female. He was probably homosexual, too, Germany mused.
Germany glared at Poland in disgust. “You’re a worthless mess of a nation,” he told the sniveling personification at his feet. “You are ineffective, disgusting, and unnatural.” He ground his boot into the embroidered, delicate fabric of the skirt Poland wore. It ripped loudly and Poland gasped. He shot a look at Germany up through his blond hair, but didn’t dare say anything.
Germany scowled back, and Poland fell again into gasping sobs. He was not taking his invasion well, but couldn’t say anything, couldn’t fight back. He had his people to think of, not just himself.
“What is it about you that England and France had to declare war on me for invading you?” Germany growled at Poland.
Poland just squeaked in terror.
“Answer me!” Germany roared, and Poland shrunk into himself.
“I d-don’t think it’s, like, me,” he whispered. “I think they’re trying to stop you. They, you know, don’t agree with your policies, and a big part of that was, like, invading me.”
Germany frowned, then looked at Poland, narrowing his eyes. “But you must submit to me, of course. You don’t have a choice at this point.”
Poland nodded shakily, still in tears. “Y-yes, Germany.”
Germany looked down at the other nation. “Pull yourself together, then come with me. You are male, so we are going to ensure that you look, dress, and act as such.”
England and France were in shock, gaping at America, who stared back at them, waiting for a response.
“W-w-what?” England finally choked out.
America frowned. “I said, I’m staying neutral. I’m not getting involved. This is a European war; it doesn’t really reach me. My boss doesn’t want a reprise of the Great War, and so...um, you have to deal with Germany on your own.” Uncomfortable under the stares of the older nations, he fled the room.
England and France stared after him.
Germany was at the head of a column of his men as they approached Warsaw. He was multitasking, both leading his men and keeping a close eye on the clearly miserable Poland. The subdued nation’s hair was shorn to an acceptable length for a male, for a soldier, and he was dressed in uniform. He looked completely defeated, staring at the ground as the column of soldiers entered his own capital city.
Poland couldn't even look up, look around at his city. He had been weak, had let Germany overpower him. Everything Germany had said, about how he was a worthless mess of a nation, was true. He was entirely a failure as a personification. He had failed to keep his people safe. It didn’t matter that he was hardly the first country to be taken over, to be occupied, he was still a failure, a godawful nation.
“Morning, frog,” England said, surprisingly cordial, as he sat next to France.
“Good morning, Angleterre,” France replied, then did a double take, spitting a mouthful of coffee back into his cup. “What are you doing here, exactly?”
“My troops arrived in France this morning. We were formally invited, in order to be closer to the war,”
Another man ran into the room before France could reply. “Sorry I’m late,” he panted.
France stared at him--he knew who the man was, but it was like a face from a dream: a sense of deja vu, a sense he knew the man, but he couldn’t place the face, no matter how hard he tried.
“America?” England asked incredulously. “I thought you just declared neutrality…?”
The man--America?--crossed his arms and narrowed violet eyes. “I’m Canada, not America.”
England and France looked at each other for a moment. Who was Canada…?
The realization of just exactly who Canada was hit both of them suddenly. It was America’s brother, the nation to the north of the United States. He was usually quiet and remained unnoticed and forgotten, but war had an odd affect on personifications, and Canada would be damned if he let them all forget him in this war.
A member of the infantry knocked on the door. “Sir, Canada has declared war on us.”
Germany blinked. “Who?”
Russia knew, of course, that Germany was in western Poland, but that didn’t stop him from entering from the east. Poland wasn’t worth his consideration anyway, not really. It was Poland, and besides, he had already been invaded by Germany. If he could deal with one invasion, he could deal with two. He was unsure how Germany would receive him, but he was not leaving.
God. Congress was infuriating. They were trying to repeal the goddamn Neutrality Acts, but all the men did was argue, get nothing useful done, and condescend to America because he looked so young (they were, he reflected, much like the countries).
America leaned against the wall and removed his glasses to rub his eyes. He was so tired and so overwhelmed.
“Are you alright, Alfred?” asked a concerned voice, using America’s human name because of the location.
America looked over at his boss. “Yes, Mr. President,” he replied respectfully. Roosevelt looked good today, he realized, using his braces to walk instead of giving in to using his wheelchair. “I’m just a little stressed out, naturally enough. I’m worried about those like me in other countries and how they are handling everything. I wish there was something I could do to help them.”
Roosevelt nodded. “I understand, and I am working on it.”
Now he had to give in even more. Poland sat at the desk in his boss’ office, staring down at the piece of paper before him. It already bore the signatures of the Nazi leaders, Germany, and Poland’s boss, and was now just waiting on his own. He had to sign twice--once with his name (in Polish, of course; that was his true name), and again with his human name. That was a clever ploy, one that he was sure had been Germany’s idea, one that bound him entirely. That was not usually thought of, leaving personifications a loophole to exploit.
“We are waiting,” Germany said coldly, and so Poland picked up the pen and signed the surrender of Warsaw.
Rzeczpospolita Polska. Feliks Łukasiewicz.
England was seated in an armchair against the wall in France’s Paris office, one leg crossed over the other, a cup of tea in his hand, true to form. France was sprawled across his desk chair, as informal as England was formal.
The pair was discussing strategy and tactics when England flinched, color draining from his face and his tea spilling over his uniform.
France looked oddly at England. “Are you alright, Angleterre?” No matter the circumstances, England never spilled his tea. France had seen him at a dead sprint still not spilling any tea.
“I’m under attack,” England replied. He had recovered quickly. As an older nation he was more used to the feeling of being under attack, especially after the Great War of the previous generation. “Air raid, I think. I’ll be fine.”
France arched an eyebrow, looking pointedly at the tea stain on England’s starched dress shirt.
England looked sheepish. “It caught me by surprise, to be honest. I wasn’t expecting the raids, although I don’t know why. I should assumed it to be coming sooner or later. We are at war, after all.”
“Yes, Mr. President?” America turned to face his boss. He had been out of Washington for days, talking to a couple of his states on a variety of issues.
“Congress amended the Neutrality Acts.”
America looked up, hopeful. “How so?”
“It is in favor of Britain and France. We will be sending over supplies for them to help in the fight against the Nazi regime in Germany, and in defending themselves and Europe against the Germans,” Roosevelt said, eyes bright behind his glasses. “We will not enter the war, but we can still help out.”
America grinned, imagining the look on England’s face when the American aid arrived. “It’s good enough for now.”
He had part of Poland, but he still wasn’t satisfied. And now he and Germany were racing for the Nordics. Russia was determined to get Finland, and, provided he could beat Germany there, it couldn’t be hard. Finland was one of the sweetest countries, even efeminine--Sweden called Finland his wife for a reason. He could do it. No problem.
When Russia finally reached Finland, he was in for a shock. There he was greeted by armed Finnish soldiers, led by Finland himself. There was no hint in the smaller nation’s face of his typical cheerfulness, of the nation who acted as the Santa Claus of the world. He was almost more frightening than Sweden.
Finland gave a half-grin. “Hello, Russia,” he said. “I heard you were on your way.”
The tone in Finland’s voice frightened Russia, but he needed a Nordic, and, even better, Finland was so close to his own country. Russia, as any other nation in wartime, would do what he needed to do.
It had been almost three months since Russia had invaded Finland, and they were finally, finally, meeting to discuss peace terms.
Russia entered the capitol building to find Finland waiting for him, hands folded in his lap as he sat in one of the chairs lining the walls. He stood when he saw Russia.
“Good morning,” he said, no hint of any sort of good humor in his tone. He knew what was going to happen to him. The peace treaty would be in Russia’s favor, of course. If it was to be in Finland’s favor, Russia would be leaving his country altogether. But that wasn’t going to happen, so he pivoted sharply on his heel and headed back towards his office, not bothering to check if Russia was actually following him.
Once they reached the office, Russia pulled out the peace treaty his boss had sent over and offered it to Finland.
The other nation took it with a sigh and read it closely. Once he was done reading, he reached for a pen.
Not meeting Russia’s eyes, Finland quickly signed his name to the peace treaty, then slid it across the desk to Russia. Satisfied, the victorious nation left the room.
They knew Finland had signed a peace treaty with Russia, and so were prepared for an invasion on that front. But they weren’t quite ready for Germany.
Before they really knew what was happening, Denmark was occupied by the Germans and Germany was focused on Norway. The Nordics were in a state of panic. Only Sweden and Iceland were spared, and they worried over the others. Like the rest of the world, they had heard the rumors about Germany, in particular, and so so did not even remotely trust him with the members of their family.
A few days later England arrived in Norway to face Germany over taking Denmark and Norway, but he had little effect. Denmark had been properly occupied, and Norway was fighting a losing battle against the other nation. Then England was recalled to his own country, and therefore was unable to even try and help the Nordics any more.
When he reached London, England was immediately taken to see his prime minister.
“Ah, Arthur, thank you for coming,” Chamberlain said, nodding at one of the chairs in front of his desk.
Curious and a little concerned--this was hardly normal behavior, and especially not normal wartime behavior--England sat. He was joined soon after by another man, and his levels of both curiosity and concern rose.
“I am resigning my position as prime minister,” Chamberlain said without preamble.
“We’re at war! You can’t just leave!” England protested, shooting to his feet. “The American president is trying to run for a third term because of the war, Alfred told me, and the United States is neutral. Apparently he believes that the country needs some level of stability as the world goes bonkers around it. We need the same. You can’t just leave!”
“Arthur, please,” Chamberlain said patiently. “It’s already done. And in case you don’t already know him, this is my replacement,” he gestured at the other man, “Winston Churchill.”
Churchill offered a hand to England, who, admitting defeat, took it for a greeting handshake, before sitting down again. “I must say, though,” Churchill said, speaking to Chamberlain even though his eyes never left England’s face, “I do not fully understand his significance, Neville. I have never seen him before, or heard of him, and yet you seem to find him important enough to warrant this private and personal introduction.”
“That you have never heard of him is, in part, the point of this meeting,” came Chamberlain’s reply. “This is Arthur Kirkland, England’s best-kept secret--and part of the best-kept secret of the world.”
Churchill didn’t look convinced.
“For every country there is a person who represents that country.”
“I was under the impression that is my job?”
“No, it’s different.” Chamberlain looked exasperated. “Oh, Arthur, you explain.”
“We are not representatives,” England said. “We are personifications.”
“I cannot say I understand,” Churchill admitted.
“Every country has a personification--a person who has been around as long as the country, who literally is the country. I hear the murmur of my people--the people of England--in my head. Every time the Germans drop a bomb on the country, I feel it. I know when my people die; their deaths affect me, too. I have lived for thousands of years, and I will live as long as England is a country. My human name, the name most of my bosses have preferred to use, is Arthur Kirkland, but my proper name is England.”
There were a few moments of silence as Churchill tried to digest the information. He finally opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a knock on the door, then it opening.
“Sir!” a gasping runner said, trying to figure out who he was speaking to--Chamberlain, the prime minister he knew; Churchill, a figure he recognized, at least; or England himself, who he neither knew nor recognized, but was dressed in military uniform. Deciding he was to report to Chamberlain, he continued. “The Germans have invaded Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and France.”
England shot back to his feet. “Germany’s got the damn frog!” he said in shock, and hurried out of the room.
He had to go back to France.
He couldn’t let the frog stay under Germany.
Damn what anyone thought of it.
“Go!” England shouted as his men sprinted for the shore, “Go, go, go, go, go!” A bomb exploded, too close for comfort, and he ran as if the Devil himself was on his heels.
He risked a glance upwards to see a division of the German Luftwaffe roaring overhead, their bellies opening to release their deadly cargo.
He had three hundred and thirty-five thousand of his men with him. 335,000 men he was determined to see home safe. 335,0000 deaths that, if they didn’t make the boats waiting for them in the deeper part of the water, he would have to shoulder.
The boats weren’t even all warships--there were too many troops for that. They had their warships, of course, but they also had small boats, and had even been forced to requisition civilian crafts. It was not a pretty evacuation. And the falling shells and machine gun fire from above certainly weren’t helping.
The first of his men were splashing into the water, running--swimming, some of them--to the boats, to the hypothetical safety of British ships.
England waited until all his men were on ships before he joined them. He could afford to. A bomb blast or some machine gun fire would hurt like hell, but it would take much more than that to kill him.
Once he was entirely certain that all of his still-living troops were in boats--not all had made it, although that was to be expected--he scrambled up the ladder to the leading war-ship. “Go,” he ordered tersely, one wary eye kept on the German planes in the sky.
He had never been so relieved to set foot in his own country, to watch the German planes peel away and head in the opposite direction.
“Thank god,” he murmured.
He should be happy. Belgium had surrendered to him, Holland had surrendered to him, Norway had surrendered to him, he had kicked England out of France. The conquest of Europe was going well. But he wasn’t satisfied. He wouldn’t be satisfied until all of Europe was under his control.
Casually, conversationally, Churchill said, “Oh, by the way, Italy has declared war on us, and on France.”
England blinked. “Italy?”
“I don’t know why you’re so shocked,” Churchill replied. “They are a part of the Axis.”
“The personification of Italy is a crybaby who is only good for eating pasta and surrendering,” England explained. “He is completely reliant on Germany for everything. I’m not even exaggerating, though I almost wish I was. Italy is useless. His brother, Romano, South Italy, is just as useless, though more bad tempered. Cross him, and he’ll swear at you. Italy will just cry and pull out one of his many white flags, I’m not overly worried about Italy’s declaration of war.”
England didn’t know what to think when France called him in a panic, babbling frantic French at him. The only words England could understand was his name--Angleterre. He was fluent in French from years of love-hate relationships with the other nation, but France was incomprehensible.
“Slow down, frog,” he ordered. “And speak English--I cannot understand a word you’re saying.”
“Germany...Paris…” France panted out. England arched an eyebrow, not that France could see him, still unsure as to what the point was.
Once he regained his breath, France continued. “Germany, and his army, is in Paris. We’re fighting, but I don’t think we can hold them. I think Germany will move on to you once he is finished with me. I--” He cut off, and England heard muffled French in the background. “I have to go,” France said suddenly into the phone, and hung up.
England stared at the phone in his hand. France had already been invaded, that he knew, but to hear that Germany had brought his army into Paris was a completely different story.
France couldn’t fall! Perhaps England didn’t get along with him, but he couldn’t imagine life without the damn frog all the same. If nothing else, he would have no one to fight with. He almost wished he could help him, but he had to prepare his own country for the inevitability of German attack. France would understand.
Russia watched the three shaking men closely. They were his newest possessions--Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, the Baltic States. He had just invaded them , and now they were going to live with him. The shaking was irritating, but it signified that they were afraid of him, and he would much prefer that they were afraid and shaking incessantly than that they would stop the infuriating constant trembling and not be afraid, that they stood up to him.
Estonia was a little shocked out of reality, Latvia was all but in tears, and Lithuania, though clearly terrified as well, was trying desperately to calm Latvia down.
“Shh,” he whispered. “You don’t want to make Russia mad. Calm down.”
Russia approached, and Latvia squeaked, cowering into Lithuania. “You don’t need to be afraid of me, little one,” he said, ruffling Latvia’s hair. “Do as you’re told, and you have absolutely nothing to fear.” He smiled, an honestly very creepy smile. It did nothing to comfort the terrified Baltic States.
They had fought for eight exhausting days, trying desperately to kick the Germans, who were putting down military roots in the city. out of Paris. But it had just gotten too hard. They’d get the German army out of one street or building just to find more in the next street or building. It was impossible. They were French, after all (the joke in other countries about French rifles were that they were never fired, only dropped once), against the well-trained and often unstoppable might of the German army.
And so France had reached out to Germany, offering to sign an armistice, to surrender Paris, surrender his country. Germany had, unsurprisingly, agreed.
Just a few days later Italy, whom France was also at war with, arrived in Paris. Left unsaid was that even France could beat Italy. But Italy wanted to beat someone, and he didn’t want to fight anymore anyway. And so, to keep his ally happy, Germany had bullied a reluctant France into signing an armistice with Italy as well.
France quickly scrawled his name, then glanced up at Italy. The other nation was waving his arms excitedly, a huge smile on his face, babbling happily in Italian.
Germany rolled his eyes, then growled, “Shut up!” at Italy, who visibly wilted.
“Are you going back to Venice?” Germany asked. Upon receiving an affirmative answer, he continued on. “I am to head for the Channel Islands,” he announced, as if France wasn’t even there. “And from there on to Britain. I will have the Allies under my control by the end of the year.”***
This was my NaNoWriMo 2014 project, and while I didn’t quite reach the 50,000 word goal, I think I did quite well. I ended NaNo at 15,402 words, which, considering the target word count, might not sound overly impressive, but I handwrote the 15,402, and continued to handwrite the rest of the fic. Yeah.
As for what else this is: if any of you are familiar with Lord of the Rings, this is my hobbit birthday present. If you have no fucking idea what I’m talking about, hobbits on their birthdays give presents to their friends. I am following that tradition, as tomorrow is my eighteenth birthday. God, I’m an adult. Welp.
This was inspired by two sources: Elizabeth Wein’s novel Code Name Verity, and Cameron Kennedy’s fanfiction “This Hurricane," which can be found on fanfiction.net. Check out both if you have the time; both are stunning pieces both of historical fiction and straight-up art.
Before I forget, huge thanks to SeraphAnaklusmos and Cameron Kennedy for agreeing to beta for me.
Now, before any of you get on my case about not being true to my summary, the story proper starts in chapter three. This chapter and the next one are historical setup, and I had way too much fun writing them. I like having a timeline and fleshing out events (I will put said timeline in its own chapter at the very end of the fic). That being said, once we get into the actual story, I will be twisting some historical events and timeline pieces to fit my story. If anyone has a huge problem with that, well...don’t read on, I guess. I will put some notes at the end of each chapter, though, that relate to that chapter. That was done in This Hurricane, and it really helped at least me (as a history nerd) relate to the story and picture things betters.
Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany in 1933. A year later, following the death of the German president, he became “Führer and Reich Chancellor,” and got rid of the position of president. He started to openly rearm Germany in 1935, a direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles, the treaty drawn up after WWI (then called the Great War).
The foreign policy of allied leaders, most notably Britain’s Neville Chamberlain, regarding Germany was appeasement--making concessions to an enemy power to avoid conflict. Chamberlain got a lot of shit for this. There is a cartoon from 1939 by a New Zealand artist showing Chamberlain on a tightrope of British prestige that is unraveling, with the post the robe is tied to labeled “appeasement.”
I did leave out much that the Nazis did in other countries prior to invading Poland, including the annexation of Austria; it simply isn’t relevant to this fic. Austria will be mentioned later, if you want to know what happened to him.
The event that “officially” started World War Two, according to many sources, was the invasion of Poland in September 1939. England and France were both allies with Poland, so they declared war. Feliks knew this, but he needed to make a political statement to Germany as best he could. The Polish Resistance was absolutely badass. Additionally, the Soviet Union had known that Germany was going to invade Poland--they had made a deal to divide the country.
There were something like three different Neutrality Acts in the 1930’s in the United States. I imagine they drove America mad.
The French rifle joke is one that my 20th century teacher always made whenever the French came up in any war we were studying. Another joke, one from my government teacher, is that the French are only effective when led by a foreign midget (Napoleon) or a teenage girl (Joan of Arc).
If there is any other historical information you want, for this or any following chapter, shoot me a PM. I would be more than glad to discuss history with any of you :D
Also, reviews are hugely appreciated. I won’t play the “chapters for reviews” game, but this is my pet project, as it is, and I have put huge amounts of time and effort into this. Thanks, all.