A Nation's Salvation

BY : eternalstarhaven
Category: +G to L > Hetalia: Axis Powers
Dragon prints: 1326
Disclaimer: Hetallia: Axis Powers does not belong to me, but to Hidekaz Himaruya, while the idea behind the story is my own. I do not make a profit or money by writing this. I also have this story posted on fanfiction.net under the same penname.

Nation's Salvation

A Promise Between Brothers


He was the oldest, what they considered an ancient. From the very beginning, he had existed, before their was land, before their was a sky... In the beginning it had just been one giant void, filled with emptiness. Very few knew the origins of life, or that all was connected through himself. He knew the intricate mountains and canyons beneath, the very place that had brought forth the trees and the land the nations above fought so hard to stake a claim over. However, with his age, came great wisdom and regret. He knew peace... he knew war... there was life... and there was death. As the land nations continued to appear and spread out across the world, his had dwindled and died, leaving only three of them left alive. He had taken on their war, determined to buy her as much time as she needed to recover. With the fall of the water nations, he had grown tired of existence, but he had one last task before he gave his life back to the creators.

His only wish was that she'd find away to forgive him, but he'd sacrifice everything to keep her out of harm's way a little while longer. He still had images of her near lifeless body, covered in scars, burnt almost beyond recognition. With what little remained of her power, she had reverted back to a child like state, her memories shattered like glass. She had no idea who she was, where she had come from, or what had happened to her and why.

The last skirmish had left its mark on him, and he was running out of time. Her enemy had grown far too powerful, and if he clashed with him again, he risked losing not only the war, but the entire world. He had to buy them time, and knowing this, he had decided the only way to help her was to sacrifice himself, and to give her the one thing that her enemy desired... his legacy and power. She would have no idea... no concept of what he was doing or why until long after he had passed.

He had to believe in the land nations, despite their immaturity and lack of knowledge. Other than Scandinavia, there were no other ancients left to protect them, all of them having long since gone from this world in order to hide their power from the power hungry water nation that sought to return everything to its original state of being. Making his way to the north, to a land ravaged with ice and mostly uninhabitable territories, he paused at the shores his enemy wouldn't think to search. It was here that he focused his energy and exchanged his tail for legs, his hair the only thing indicating what he was to those that new of the water nations.

As he passed the villagers, they nodded, some pointing to their nation's hut, the one that protected them in times of war and famine. Without him, they knew they'd either become one with another nation, or perish as a result of most catastrophic events. He had lived far too long, seen far too much, and the only pride he had to pass on his accomplishments would go most of his life without realizing who or what he was. Sitting outside, cleaning and repairing his weapons, was one of the three Viking Warlords, his eyes a storm of violet and cunning. At the moment, he seemed approachable, almost peaceful, and he wondered if Atlantis had had something to do with the halting of the Scandinavian wars.

They had all agreed to take her in, to set aside their differences to protect her. She was sacred to them, especially to the more violent of the Nordic Countries, Sweden and Denmark. Norway, despite appearances and his success rate in combat, was the more level headed of the twin brothers, always rescuing his hot headed brother from ridiculous circumstances. Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden were all old enough to understand her connection to the water and the land, the reason that she had to survive. What he had in mind would place her in even more danger, and indirectly, the Scandinavian brothers as well.

What other choice did he have? She was the oldest of the water nations, despite having reverted back to her child like state; he couldn't give it to her enemy, and his son had yet to tap into his water abilities. Norway froze, regarding the ancient with uneasy fear. They all knew him, and the last they saw of him, was the day he had brought a battered and broken Atlantis. Sweden had had no idea what to do with her; a part of him had wanted to give her a warrior's death as she deserved, as they had all considered. Instead, he had chosen to take her in, to guard her against the world of dreams and reality.

Of the four, she stayed with him the most, and Sweden wasn't one taken lightly, even by his older brothers. Whether he saw her as a sister, daughter, or potential wife should she recover, Oceanonis had no clue. Before the war, she'd have never given in to any man's desire for her, and all that had tried fell at the tip of her blade, contempt and hatred blazing in her rainbow colored eyes. Would she destroy Sweden or Denmark if they tried, or would her staying with them form a connection that she had never had in her long life time.

The winds of the surface were cold and bitter, but that didn't matter to him. Soon he'd leave this world, and with it his precious sister. Did she have the strength to do what he could not? Alone, she had no chance against her enemy, but if she formed an alliance with the emerging land nations, united them... then maybe... it was a ludicrous idea, not one that would happen in several human life times, but it was possible.

He hated that she was still alone, having never known love or true courage. These four brothers had it and more, but she was far too broken to realize it right now. She would need the new memories to over come her bitter and violent past, one that knew only death, betrayal, and war. Despite his uneasiness, Norway knew the way of the warrior, standing to show his respect as he would any other, regardless if they were friend or foe. "Greetings," he spoke, the ancient nodding amiably.

The fact that he said nothing made his anxiety levels rise, and he wondered if this was not a conversation for all, rather than himself. For a long time, Oceanonis simply watched as he prepared his weapons and hunting equipment for a migration across the old land bridge between Russia and the uncharted territory. Oceanonis had a feeling the uncharted land wasn't quite uninhabited, but he chose to say nothing in order to protect what nation may or may not have found themselves attached to it.

Over the past century, larger portions of land started to expose itself to the surface dwellers, making it easier to find food and resources for them to survive. This calmed the war nations; warm and fed people made for less aggression. Norway and Denmark had made several crossings to the uncharted world, sometimes with their father. With each passing, someone stayed behind, meaning it was more and more likely that there were nations attached to it. With the migration routes, the Viking nations were able to survive the harsh winters and lack of food with their kills and furs.

As time passed, less and less of the ice bridge remained, meaning they'd have to find another way to hunt for their food and supplies. Second, Russia was now occupying that territory, and things did not always go well with their cousin nation. Only recently, had another Scandinavian nation emerged, the youngest of the five nations; Iceland, and so far every brother shielded him from the violence of war. How long that would last was uncertain. "How fares your father?" he suddenly asked.

Norway tensed, not sure of why he'd bring up the health of his father. Nations had the ability to live as long as they wanted, but once they grew tired, it was almost impossible to talk them out of moving on. Perhaps it shouldn't surprise Norway that Oceanonis might know that his father was considering this option; the two were the last of the ancients. Atlantis might have been considered one, but her current circumstances had changed everything and they had no idea how long she might stay the way she is.

"As good as can be expected, I suppose, but you already knew this."

"Finally, there's the back bone that you're known for," Oceanonis smirked, seeing a small hint of one on Norway's lips.

"Do I have to play twenty questions, or will you speak of what brought you here? Does it have to do with Atlantis?"

"I have much to say and I'd rather not do it more than once."

"You're wanting my brothers, here... on the same land mass..."

"Are you not at peace at the moment?" Oceanonis countered, his gaze locking with the older of the two twins. "Due to her being with the four of you; you've had little reason to go to war with one another. There's food, clothing, and not a single storm has brought down any of your ships in the last decade."

That didn't mean Norway wanted to go out of his way to see any of them... well almost all of them. He didn't mind his twin so much. Sweden on the other hand, he was a loose cannon when it came to his temper; the slightest insult often erupted into a full war, and very few walked away with less than a handful of deaths as a result. "I need a valid reason to summon them here; they're not going to come just because I ask them nicely," Norway growled, vibrating with aggression.

"Her enemy is still very much alive... what I'm about to do will buy this world and her the time necessary to stop him. Several of the ancients have already made the sacrifice; I'm one of the last."

"What are you talking about?" Norway demanded, taking Oceanonis into his home and shutting the door. "Aren't they dying because they want to..."

"That's a loaded question, and it's a yes and no answer. The ancients possess a considerable amount of power, and when we die, it has to go somewhere. If another nation kills us, that power is often released back into the land he or she came from. However, some nations are different, especially water nations. Some of us control certain aspects of nature itself, and the enemy this world will eventually face can draw in the power of a nation he's around, to the point of killing him or her. He's already done so to several of the water nations. However, in order to gain complete control of the entire ocean is to gain what Atlantis or myself still possess. Several of the water nations, when realizing what he was doing, gave their power to her or other half-water, half-land nations. Those ancients, in order to protect not only themselves, but the future, did the same. Most of their ancestors have no idea the powers being gifted to them. Scandinavia is the last surviving land nation and my guess is he's choosing to die in order to split his power to the surviving children."

"He can do that?" Norway choked, his expression one of horror. As much as he liked power and war, he didn't like it just handed to him the way that Oceanonis was describing. "Atlantis is connected to you; memories or not. If something were to happen to you, what will happen to her?"

"It's difficult to say. Considering she has no memories of her past or her enemy, she'll survive, but not without further suffering. However, considering the stakes and the threat to her already, I really don't have an alternative option."

"Then don't do it," Norway insisted. "She's still suffering from chronic nightmares; it takes Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and myself to calm her down before she's willing to go back to sleep. Only a small portion of her scars have begun to fade; and you're talking about adding to it... no way. I might not always like my brothers, but the one thing we all agreed upon was to protect her from everything and everyone, and that includes you if we must."

Oceanonis sighed in frustration. He figured Norway the more reasonable of the four, but he had underestimated Norway's understanding of what was at stake. As grateful as he was that Atlantis finally had individuals willing to lay their lives down for her, now was not the time for it. "Does it have to be her?" Norway suddenly asked, his eyes filled with desperate passion.

"She's the only one capable of controlling the Ocean..."

"There has to be an alternative solution; a temporary host... someone that can hold on to your power until someone else, other than Atlantis, can take control of it."

"Without my power, she's defenseless. Is that what you want?"

"She has us!" Norway shouted. "What are we here for if not to keep her out of harm's way?"

"You're no match for an ancient as powerful as your father; not even with the combined strength of your brothers."

"Then we'll get stronger. Tell us what we have to do, what our ultimate purpose is, but don't add to her suffering. I'm begging you."

Oceanonis had no idea what to say to Norway's humbled plea, something he never would have imagined hearing from a Viking Nation. They prided themselves on war, on death, and yet here he was asking Oceanonis to reconsider his options. "The Vikings believe that every individual, whether he or she is a nation or a human, has a purpose, do they not?"

Norway glanced away... he didn't like where this was headed, but he couldn't defy the will of the gods and their prophecies. If they wanted Atlantis to carry out their will, she had no choice in the matter. All he could do was have her back and protect her to the best of his ability. "Do we have to tell her?"

"If she ever regains her memories, she'll know. Until then, no."

"I can't say how long it'll take for them to get here."

"I have the time to wait."

Stepping outside, he barked a series of commands, watching as his younger warriors took off. He only hoped that Sweden or Finland were in agreeable moods to hear them out. "I haven't seen her since I brought her here... I'd like to keep it that way."

"Why would you do that?"

"She doesn't need to remember the past until she's ready to deal with it."

Time seemed like it was at a stand still; Norway wandering around as he made adjustments to his preparations for the winter, hunting season, and possible war. One didn't live where he did and not have your eyes looking over your shoulder. You either did, or you died; it was a simple concept that had kept all of them alive. Now was no different as he made his way to the docks and took note of the first war ships pulling forward. Although Sweden was the closest as far as neighboring nations was concerned, Denmark was the first to arrive, soon followed with Sweden and their oldest brother Finland. He never saw one without the other, but he had a hunch that was more of Sweden's doing than Finland's.

It didn't take long for the three brothers to arrive, but most importantly, with Denmark came one of their newest additions to the family; Iceland. Norway's dark eyes softened, and he couldn't stop himself from reaching for the young lad, his eyes so much like his own. "How was he?" he asked, a rare smile forming on his youthful features.

"Wild like the rest of us," Denmark boasted, slamming a hand on his brother's shoulder blades. "Did you really have to call 'all' of us?"

Sighing, he glanced over at him, the smile no longer present. In it's place was a weariness that he normally didn't feel, and resentment. Spotting Sweden and Finland approaching, he noted that they were alone, the reason for their gathering not in sight. "She's not here," he whispered, half-choked, he pleaded with the tall blond. A storm of emotion flashed in his blue eyes, but he shook his head, Norway visibly relaxing.

"You mentioned that her brother was involved, so I decided to leave her with our father."

"How is he?" The conversation with Oceanonis still lingered, and he wondered if that was the reason his father was choosing to pass on. It angered him, and he glanced a way before Sweden saw and demanded an explanation. As young as he was compared to the rest of them, he was a force of reckoning and he debated on the idiocy of bringing them to his shores.

"No better, no worse..." Was Sweden's short answer. Reaching for each brother's arm, Norway gave them their individual respect as warriors and led them to his hut. Sitting near a camp fire was Oceanonis, several furs already draped around his shoulders. For whatever reason, he had chosen to remain in his human form, refusing to return to the Ocean like he should have done. This was not lost on Sweden or Finland as they took their places around him.

Norway noted that Sweden seldom put Atlantis in harm's way, now being no different. Blood or not, something they all understood as nations, Oceanonis would only serve as a painful reminder of her past, and that wasn't what she needed in order to recover. Around Sweden, was a thick sense of hostility, and he made no indication that he'd calm down or play nice if Oceanonis gave him a reason to act out. Ice-blue glared openly at the ancient... what did it matter to him if the water nation had the ability to flatten them all with a single thought; he'd find a way to survive and still wage war.

"You're as blood thirsty as ever," Oceanonis taunted, earning a tightening of the eyes as his only response from the Viking.

"Why did you want us here," Finland quietly asked, pushing for the main reasons of their gathering rather than putting on a show of hospitality. They might be at peace, but that was always momentary when it came to the Scandinavian brothers.

"Atlantis... she is with your father?"

"As she should be," Sweden snapped, daring any of them to challenge his decision.

"You are rather fond of her."

"We're all are; they are no different than I when it comes to her.  However, I will not remind her of what she no longer possess, or the mere fact that she is now in the form of a child screaming and weeping like one." He saw no disagreement from his brothers. As always, they agreed on his decisions when it came to her, and that wasn't about to change. Leaning forward, "she does not laugh, she does smile... she barely remembers how to hold a sword or a shield... you have not once checked on her since bringing her here..."

"Would you rather I bring her war to your very door steps," Oceanonis countered, and immediately regretted it. The brothers were already standing, fingers curled into tight fists, stances spread, as if ready to attack at any provocation and this time it was directed towards the water nation himself. "Save that strength for my sister. I did not come here to start a war, but to ask that you continue your protection of her. Her enemy's power has grown, and as such, he seeks the last two remaining full-blooded water nations' powers. The world must continue to believe that she died; as far as I'm concerned, she would never return to the ocean, but it's as much a part of her as the birds lift up their wings and fly in the sky above us."

Seeing the constantly fighting brothers united gave him hope... it was all that he could ask for and he only hoped that this feeling would spread eventually to the rest of the land nations. They would need that united strength of friendship and trust to stop what was coming for them. "I gave her to you not just as a gift, but to keep her at a safe distance from what was happening. She wasn't the first nation to fall, but she wasn't the last. As other water nations began to fade, their powers stolen from them, she made a stand. What he didn't take, the other nations gave to her, knowing that I had no interest in the war. It was a mistake, one that may cost all of us."

Finland reached for his shaking brother's wrist, hoping to keep him calm enough to listen. Denmark did the same, feeling him tense, every muscle so tight that one false move he'd spring forward and do his best to kill her brother.  To Sweden, he was a threat. Ignorance always cost a nation or village their lives, and he placed full blame of Atlantis on her brother. "Her enemy had it right... for the most part. He destroyed every water nation in the open water. Only Spain and Italy survived, moving inland just far enough until the waters receded and reclaimed what the ocean had taken from them. It was on the shores of Spain that she made her last stand against him; what happened after that I am uncertain. Spain is just a child himself, Rome's daughter and his mother dead at their feet. I have no idea if their enemy took their powers, if they were given to Atlantis... It doesn't really matter. Without her, the enemy cannot finish what he started. He has half of the world's water elemental powers beneath his control. The remaining half resides in either Atlantis or myself. As it stands, alone neither of us can hope to stand against him and she is far from being able to fight him again. Therefore, I have come to a decision, one her mother has agreed is our only option if we are to bide the land nations time from his ultimate goal."

"Speak what you've come to tell us and go," Sweden snarled, all of his brothers now holding him back. He didn't often show his emotions, but when he did, people were wise enough to scatter.

"I'm giving her my power... it's all I have to offer in a way to keep her protected and safe."

"Won't he come after her?" Denmark protested, imprints of his fingers lingering on Sweden's arm. It took all their strength to keep him back, and he was half tempted to let go. Norway had Sweden's waist, while Finland had his other arm.

"Not if he believes my power roams the open ocean."

"I have no intentions of letting you near her," Sweden spat, straining to break free of his brothers' grasp.

"Considering you did exactly as I thought you might... the power will have reached her long before your return." The brothers froze, noting the changes that they hadn't seen due to their anger. His hair was no longer that of a water nation, but a normal human, his physical form fading in and out. "You forget, I am a being of the water and the first ancient. She is the one chosen for this task, regardless of what any of you or myself want."

With a roaring howl, Sweden ripped himself away from their hold, lunged for Oceanonis and slammed him heavily against Norway's home, strong fingers wrapped around his throat. "If you weren't already dying, I'd rip you limb from limb! Why do you insist on causing her further pain?"

"You love her," Oceanonis answered tiredly, his physical form less substantial.

"You misunderstand," Sweden hissed, surprising them. "I see her as the ultimate warrior, betrayed and cast aside... I will offer her my sword and shield... I never wanted her as a wife, even now. I simply wanted to fight her, to prove that I have the right to lead my people and my brothers as a warrior. This enemy of hers... he took that from me, and I will have his blood for it! I don't want her legacy, or her power... Why did you leave her? You're doing it again, and in the most cowardly way possible! Why won't you face her before you die?"

"Other than her enemy, she is the 'last' full-blooded water nation. There are half-bloods, one of them being my son."

Sweden paused, a flicker of awareness despite his rage. Oceanonis could have given his power to his son, but he had chosen his damaged sister instead. "If I go near her, 'he' will know and 'she' will die. This is my way of protecting her, giving her the power necessary to defend herself until my son is old enough to claim his birthright. If you truly mean what you say; then continue using your sword and shield... she will need it long after I have vanished from this world. This war will not end today or tomorrow, but thousands of years in the future. Her enemy is a cunning and hateful person... he will go after the land nations, starting with the ones closest to the water. He will turn you against one another, picking up the scraps after a nation is too weak to stop him. My one regret is that Atlantis has never known the touch of a man, of love or courage... It was always war that she waged across the Atlantic, and it was war she will face yet again. I'm hoping that with the four of you, she will have new memories to overwrite the lost ones, to give her a different kind of strength that she must have. Atlantis is powerful, but not having something to fight for... she will never win with such a mind set."

Sweden couldn't stop him, and they all knew it. Dropping him, he started towards his ships... "Your father is aware of what's about to happen and he too has already begun his final move. Have you not noticed the disappearance of all the ancients? Atlantis must survive if your world is to have any chance at all."

His words echoed in their minds long after he faded, pushing them to Sweden's shores as fast as their boats would carry them. For the sake of speed, all of them hopped on board of Sweden's lead war ship, their younger brother not resisting for once. His only desire was to get to Atlantis and ensure she was safe.

"What of his son?" Denmark asked.

Sweden had no idea... it seemed the victims were the people closest to Oceanonis, and in reality it wasn't his fault. "We protect him when and if he needs it. If he's unaware of his legacy, then pushing him towards it will only endanger him."

"I wonder which nation he is?"

"We'll know him... he'll have a similar look to him, a physical trait when he's in contact with even something as small as a puddle of water."

Sweden wasn't one to look to others for help, nor did he rely on others when it came to making his decisions. He was a warrior, he had honor and pride, but when it came to Atlantis he'd sacrifice most of it. He idolized her, had trained himself night after night to become as good and strong as her, hoping to have one match with her. He had no idea if she'd kill him or not, but he wanted to know his worth as a leader, to know if he had what it took to unite all of Scandinavia. Perhaps he didn't need to fight a war to do that after all.

Oceanonis wasn't wrong about his feelings towards her, but trying to claim her right now was out of the question. One, she had the mindset and form of a child, and two... well he'd only ever make a move if she was able to lift up her weapon and take him on like she had everyone else. He'd have it no other way.

"Do we tell her?" Norway wondered, still angry at the conversation he had had with Oceanonis. There were things the others didn't know, and he debated on telling them. In the end, he decided it was best that they were all on the same page and started to tell them what they hadn't been told. Sweden, as angry as he was, didn't interrupt. It wasn't the violent outburst that frightened them, but the silence.

"We'll tell her when she's ready to hear it," Sweden decided. "Her memories are fragmented and chaotic, violent... For brief moments she knows about the betrayal and the pain. We need to keep passing her around between us." The look on their faces was enough to get him to almost laugh, but he maintained his composure. "If she stays with one of us for too long, he's likely to pick up on her location."

"Will she want to? She's rather attached to you," Norway pointed out.

"She's not going to have a choice."

Making their way to Sweden, they found their father trying to console the water nation, her rainbow colored eyes filled with tears. She might not remember who he was, but she had felt him die and Sweden had never been so angry. Going to her, he pulled her close, her trembling body threatening to fall apart. He sensed her confusion and fear, and not a single one made mention of the way he softened any time she was close. His very nature was violent, but around her he was gentle and compassionate.

None of them envied the idiot stupid enough to hurt her... Sweden was bad enough, but four angry Viking nations wasn't something anyone would try to contemplate a war against. "Did you know?" Denmark demanded of his father.

"We both knew something was happening beyond our control. With a disappearance of one ancient after another, he was gaining far too much power far too fast. To slow him down, the ancients decided to sacrifice themselves and hide their power through their bloodlines. It's not a permanent fix, but it is a solution and nothing any of you have a say over."

The Viking nations spent the next year allowing Atlantis to bond with them, each brother giving her something to draw on for strength and stability. Not once did they make mention of her past or where she had come from; they had even gone so far as to allow her to integrate with the village children. It wasn't always easy... she didn't seem to know the concept of play or friendship, but she was changing, as were they all. With the passing of each month, she visited a different brother, the water nation creating a bond between them that wouldn't have occurred otherwise. The following winter, the five brothers and Atlantis were once again gathered, their father having decided it was time.

Finland had taken both children to the water, promising to keep them out of it while his other brothers spoke with their father. Unlike Oceanonis or their father, however, she did not have the luxury of passing on, forced to re-live her life all over again. She'd have to endure until her nephew came into his legacy. How much would the gods demand of her before they were satisfied? The moment she had seen Sweden she had gone to him, the blond one of her favorites. Denmark was a close second, his wild nature an exact mirror of her warrior's blood.

If Norway or Finland took offense, they chose to say nothing of it. They were content that she had come to accept them at all, and they only hoped that their friendship would continue to grow. "Have you considered taking her as wife?" Scandinavia asked of Sweden. It wasn't the first time the elders had asked, and he'd never once changed his answer.

"Now is not the time for such considerations."

"If not now, when?" his father demanded.

"When she's aware of the demands being made of her. If I take her now... and her memories resurface... do you think she won't drive a spear straight through my heart... She is a warrior like no other, and her laws have always stated that any suitor will challenge her in direct combat. I will honor her law until she herself dissolves it."

"You have never hesitated to take what you've wanted in the past, why her?"

"Her mother is the goddess of war and her father the God of the Ocean. We will treat Atlantis with the dignity and respect her bloodline demands."

There was no changing his mind, and it seemed his brothers supported his decision. Scandinavia had a feeling that Denmark had feelings for her as well, but like Sweden he'd not act upon them. Atlantis was a legend among warriors, having waged war against most of the southern parts of Europe and northern portions of Africa. Like the Vikings, she had never lost, and it was to that legacy the Vikings rallied around.

"There is one confession I must make before I pass on," he sighed, his voice filled with weary regret. He knew the brothers were anxious, especially after everything they had recently learned from Oceanonis, but it was necessary for them to survive the coming future. "There are two others of Scandinavian descent, their locations unknown to you."

All of them felt the sudden spike of aggression, the brothers wisely stepping away from Sweden. "I've had enough of prophecies, destinies, and confessions... First Atlantis, now this!" Sweden snarled, cracking knuckles together for a fight.

Denmark was the one to reach for his brother's wrist, a hint of anger just as potent as Sweden's in his blue orbs, but he shook his head. "Let it go, brother. Even if you did fight, what would it solve... let us find and protect them like we do her."

"Why are their locations unknown?" Norway asked, trying and failing to remain the voice of reason.

"They are in the savage land, across the bridge of ice that we once traveled during the migration seasons. Some stayed, and most returned. Very few make that journey any longer, and for several thousand years I have searched and failed to find them. I believe that they are still, physically, very young, despite how old they really are."

At least their father had looked for them, and it started to make sense why he hadn't said anything. Why give them hope of two brothers if they might not survive before they found them? The strong survived, and the weak died; that was the way of things, and yet Sweden wanted to make the journey in order to find them. How did they find what their father had not? "You still sense them?" Sweden ask, the tension going out of his arms and legs. Norway stepped back, sensing that the danger had passed, and waited for his father's response.

"They're both alive, if that's what you ask. Whether or not that they're together, I do not know, but you will know them... they will have our complexion and eye colors, and perhaps temperament. I ask only that you continue my search and protect them should they have need of it."

"As you wish," Sweden consented, taking his leave. The brothers already knew he'd seek out Finland and Atlantis, the powerful Viking intent on raising her to the best of his abilities. He wasn't one to cater to children, but she wasn't like most of them. She never argued or raised her voice, always did what he asked without question, and most importantly, she wasn't afraid of him.

"She has changed you," meaning the four brothers as a whole rather than individually. Not a single war had broken out since her arrival, and the need to protect had grown even stronger over the past year. Despite their view on women, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway would never treat her as anything less than a warrior. They never brought up her past, and took her everywhere that they went, disregarding the notion that women did not fight or travel with the men folk. She wasn't of the land, and they didn't treat her as such, and therefore, their land laws did not fall upon her in the same manner. They would not seek a mate for her; as the last remaining water nation, she had that right to choose and none of them would allow anyone to force it upon her, to include themselves. "There is one more thing, best for Sweden not to hear."

Norway covered his face and took a deep breath. He wasn't that far off from an explosion himself, but his father was so close to death that if he wasted time speaking and fighting, they might not hear what Scandinavia felt they needed in his last moments. "Atlantis was brought here after the destruction of her water nations. However, there are a couple of the half-water and half-land nations that still remain. Oceanonis feels that those connections enabled her to survive. The threat to Atlantis has not died and will forever hunt for her. Until she regains her true form and strength, no one must learn of her existence or that she somehow survived the fall of Atlantis and her seven islands."

"Oceanonis made some hint to that as well."

"He did not die of his own free will," Scandinavia warned, "The only way to save this world and her, he had had no choice but to give up his life and send to her his power before their enemy absorbed it."

"Who the hell is after her?" Denmark demanded, unafraid to fight.

"I dare not say nothing; the four of you are idiotic enough to go searching and challenging what cannot be fought or destroyed at this time." Scandinavia closed his eyes, his breath becoming more irregular. With great reluctance, he opened them and settled them upon the twins. "She has never lost a challenge, forever alone. All that have tried have only ever wanted the legacy and power that comes from uniting with her. Her brother didn't want this for her, not anymore. If ever a day reveals itself that a nation or human wishes to challenge her not for her thrown or title, but to protect her... unite behind and protect him as you would her."

"We don't understand," Norway asked of his father.

"It's an old law, a decree from Oceanonis and the gods themselves. As she refused suitor after suitor, they discovered that she had no use or desire for a husband that lacked the ability to protect her should the need arise. Considering her mother... they realized that she made a valid argument. She was the daughter of Athena, and was connected to several islands and coastal regions of Europe and Northern Africa. Atlantis was always at war, and she never lost. Some say she was the protector of those nations, standing tall and proud as suitor after suitor fell at her feet, her blades stained in red. It was not the woman they wanted, but the power she possessed. Oceanonis hoped that a nation would emerge that could reach past the emotional barriers she placed around her heart, to show her that she was important to him, that he'd have her back when she needed it."

"Why would he give her to us then? We're not peaceful nations."

"That's exactly why he gave her to us. She will need to learn to fight again and he felt that the four of you would set aside your differences and protect her until she no longer had a need for it."

"Did he not think that we might become attached to her, that we would not see her as one of our own?"

"He has seen and encouraged it." Norway cursed, starting to pace back and forth. This was so beyond his ability to comprehend, and he couldn't understand why he was telling them and not Finland, the voice of calm and reason. "When he first brought her, she rejected all forms of assistance and affection. That is not the case now; is it?"

"He's wanting her to have a semi-normal life," Denmark concluded, Scandinavia smiling in triumph. "Other than getting better, we have no expectations of her. All of us want to shield her from the nightmares and the dangers that await."

"In time, she will regain the memories lost to her... the new ones, which she forges with the four of you, need to become strong enough to combat against them and her enemies."

"That explains why you waited for Sweden to leave," Norway grouched. "Will her enemy know to look for her here?"

"Oceanonis was careful to keep her existence a secret, even from the land nations that she's still connected to."

"Which ones?"

"Spain and Italy have the strongest connection to her still. She would know better the connections all the land nations have to the water, but now is not the time to learn of it." Scandinavia drifted asleep, and the twins knew that he wasn't going to awaken this time. Turning away, they walked out, knowing that within the next hour, other than themselves, nothing of their father would remain.

Finland had her sitting near the docks, baby Iceland in her arms. Her rainbow colored gaze settled on Sweden as she approached, but they didn't light up with a smile. She rarely gave that to them, and when she did, he cherished it. "Is it true?" Finland asked, holding his breath. Sweden had briefly told him... did they really have two brothers, both of them around the same age as Denmark and Norway?

"It is, but father isn't certain of where they are or how old they are? It's his belief that the two were born while we were making our crossings over the ice bridge between Russia and the uncharted land. Most likely they travel with those that stayed behind."

"That definitely would make them as old as Norway or Denmark," Finland gasped.

"Father still thinks their only children; it makes sense. With only a handful of people to make that crossing every year, the expansion rate is very low. Russia controls that ice bridge, and if we wish to keep that territory and them a secret, we don't risk going near it or speak a word of this to anyone until we have them within our grasp."

"And if another nation finds them first?"

"We'll deal with it." Finland nodded, smiling as Iceland picked up and showed Atlantis a large sea shell. Taking it, she placed the open side to his ear, and they watched in awe as the baby's eyes went wide, taking it back and repeating what she had done.

Norway and Denmark watched the two nations play before reluctantly taking Iceland from her. Silently she stood, going to Sweden without a word of protest. They hated it... what would it take to see her smile again? After the passing of their father, the brothers kept to their word, protecting and raising Atlantis as their own, keeping her origins a secret from the rest of the world. As far as anyone knew, Atlantis was a city of myth, having vanished into the sea, no one certain of how it disappeared. The brothers still fought from time to time, but never in front of her.

Another year passed and she vanished, returning to the sea without a single word to any of them. On the beach she had left an arm band for the seven of them, two for the brothers that they had yet to find. Without hesitating, they put them on, sensing that they were a way for her to reach out if they should need her.

"Do you think she'll make it?" Denmark asked them one morning, kicking at the sand. Sweden had taken her leaving the hardest; after she had gone, he took to the ocean once more, violently waging war against anything that stood in his path. It didn't matter how many lands he conquered, how many battles he fought, it wouldn't take away the emptiness that had been left behind with her absence.

"The world moves on; as long as it remains, we know she's alive," Norway answered, a sad smile appearing on his twin's face. He didn't try to offer words of sympathy; her leaving had hurt them all, but they also knew that the water was her world and regardless if she had left now or later, it would have still been painful. She was a part of them, and her place was still uncertain. They had no idea how Sweden saw her, as a potential wife, a daughter, a sister... He simply protected her, and he'd continue to do so without fail. "She'll return; you forget she's a warrior unlike any other, woman though she is. I was thinking; why not go on an adventure; explore the oceans to as far as we can go?"

"You're wanting to search for them?" Denmark gasped. "Is that possible... do you really think we'll find them?"

"We can only hope, but we speak none of this to Sweden until we're successful."

"Are you sure? What if he might want to help?"

"He's too angry... if we found them in the state of mind he's in right now; they'll either run... Considering who they're related to; I doubt seriously that's going to happen. Or, they'll wage a war against the four of us, and I'd rather not have to kill them."

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