You stood in the clearing, your back straight and eyes snapped to attention on Germany, who was leading your training. Your head ached because the only way you were allowed to keep your hair was to put it back in a very, very tight braid. It was either that, or chop off it off. To be specific, Germany was the one who enforced that rule on you. He was always harder on you than the others, because you were a girl, you figured. Today, though, there was nothing to nitpick about. Your uniform was neatly tucked in without any wrinkles and your face was set much like Japan's. A fine example of an Axis soldier.
Alternately, Italy's clothes looked hastily thrown on and he kept cracking jokes, trying to make you laugh. You bit your lip when he told an especially funny one, trying to hold onto your composure. When Germany turned his back to you, Italy came over to you and whined. "______, you should smile more! You're so pretty when you smile!" He pinched your cheeks and lifted them up, forcing your lips to curl. You batted his hands away just before Germany turned back around.
He held a grenade in on hand, explaining how to use it. He pulled out the pin with his teeth and threw it straight ahead, not even flinching when it exploded with a BANG. "Now you try," he said, his eyes on you. You picked up the explosive, hastily pulled the pin, and hurled it as hard as you could. "Not bad," Germany said, before nodding at Italy to start. He did a little salute and moved to copy you.
Germany's eyes widened and he started yelling. You whirled to Italy, your braid whipping your neck. That idiot! He had the grenade in his mouth and had thrown the pin instead! For a moment, you were frozen, an image of Italy killed because of his own incompetence vivid in your mind. You ripped the grenade out of his mouth and threw it, grabbing Italy and diving to the ground.
The explosion assaulted your ears, leaving a continuous ringing in its wake. You both crawled away from the smoke. Germany and Japan ran over, their mouths moving. You shook your head, already dizzy. Italy pointed at you and turned white. Everyone crowded around you, speaking words you couldn't hear. You were confused as to why they were so excited about you. You looked over your shoulder and your mouth dropped open.
Your back was dyed red, blood trailing down and soaking your already ruined uniform. The grenade had gone off too close to you and had burned your back completely. The pain came, making you drop and writhe in agony. Through the diabolical ringing, you heard a keening cry that wouldn't stop. You barely registered the sound was you screaming before your vision blackened.
You woke up to feel your cheek smushed against a pillow. You painstakingly raised your head barely a few centimeters and saw you were on a cot. Your head felt...lighter. You didn't want to move your arm too much; the burn had covered your shoulder blades. So you turned your head, expecting your hair to fall over your shoulder. Only it didn't. Of course; it had all been singed off in the explosion. A prick of grief pierced you, but you let it disappear and put your head back down.
You peeked under the thin blankets covering you and blushed. Bandages covered you, back and front. Whoever had wrapped you up had seen your bare chest.
After what seemed like an eternity of looking around the room in absolute boredom (it was too damn WHITE. Everything was the exact same shade!), the door burst open.
Italy flung himself at your bedside. "______! You're awake! You saved my life and then you got hurt and wouldn't wake up and I'm sorryyyyyyy!" He collapsed into sobbing on your bed.
You awkwardy reached out as much as you could and patted his back. "Er, it's okay, Italy. I'm awake now."
He suddenly sprang up. "Your new hair looks really cute, ______! Kinda like Germany's when he just wakes up! Oh, did you know that..." Italy resorted to his normal habit of talking your head off.
Eventually, Japan stepped in, his voice barely heard over Italy's chatter. "I am very happy to see you awake and responsive, ______-san."
"How long was I out for?"
"You were unconcious for five days."
"Five days?! Really?!" You got too excited and had to grip the edges of the cot, waiting for the burning nausea to pass. "I'm okay," you said when Japan's face turned grim.
"Well, I'll take this off your hands," he nodded at Italy, who still hadn't even shut his mouth. He hauled him up and made for the door, but before he left, Japan shot a look at Germany.
Germany. You hadn't even noticed him. He was standing away from the bed, staring at you. "What?" You asked and cracked a smile. "You mad you're still stuck with me?"
Your mirth dissolved when Germany's eyes pricked you, full of hurt. "You believe I think that little of you?"
"Hey, I was jokin-"
"We didn't know if you would wake up. I thought you were going to-" Gemany looked away, as if trying to compose himself. "This is all Italy's fault," he growled. "If it weren't for him, you wouldn't be-"
"Hey!" You cried, interrupting him. "Hey. Italy's a ditz, he can't help it. You need to cut him some slack."
"And you need to stop giving him such a wide berth! He almost killed you and you're trying to pass if off as nothing!"
"Why do you care so much?!" Your words hung in the air. Germany opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He closed it, gave you a long look, and left.
Germany refused to come to see you as you recovered. You learned you were actually in a spare room in his house, which pissed you off even more. Wow, you were in the guy's house and he didn't even bother to stop in? Still mad about the little arguement you had had before, you figured.
Italy and Japan visited you often, though. The redhead filled you in on all the things you had missed, and Japan changed your bandages and made tea while skillfully dodging your questions about Germany. But one could take being bedridden for only so long. You decided to go to Germany yourself; surely he wasn't going to come to you and explain why he suddenly left earlier. You balanced on wobbly legs, not used to your weight after being confined for so long. You made it out the door, your hand trailing on the wall.
When you entered the kitchen, Germany comically spit out his breakfast. "______! What are you doing up?"
"I wanted to find out why you've started to pretend I don't exist." You crossed your arms and waited, feeling more and more annoyed as the silence stretched on.
Germany ran a hand through his hair and stood up. It was then you noticed he was in a tank top and bokers, while you were still in your bloodstained pants with only a bunch of bandages on top. So much for decency.
Whatever, You had more important things to worry about.
"You were asleep for a long time," Germany finally said, not meeting your eyes. "And you lost a lot of blood. I almost throttled Italy until Japan stopped me. I was so scared you would-" He turned around. "I know I'm strict with you but it's because I don't want you to get h-hurt..." You heard the hitch in his voice and stiffened. You grasped his shoulder and forced him to face you.
Germany was crying. Germany, the most guarded man in the world, was crying. Everything snapped into place.
He cared about you. So much, he would kill anyone who hurt you, accident or not. So much, he would break down all of his walls and stand armorless in front of you. You curled your arms around him and rested your head on his shoulder, gripping him for dear life, letting him know with your touch: Yes. Yes, I feel the same way. You knew Germany understood, because you felt his lips brush your shortened hair.
Meanwhile, Japan walked into the kitchen, trying to find you. He stealthily slipped away when he saw you two together, a ghost of a smile on his face.