Character(s)/Pairing(s): Greece and Japan; Giripan
Warnings: Angst and some fluff
Summary: During the Nazi Occupation of Greece, one Heracles Karpusi re-reads over and over the last letter he received from Honda Kiku.
Notes: I was researching something for another fic when I started reading about Greece during WWII, and then spawned this. It's not very long, and Japan is only mentioned. I hope you enjoy!
Maybe the occupation would bring about one good thing for him. Heracles leaned heavily against his window frame, staring out into the heart of Athens. The disgusting, tartan red black and white Nazi flags that gleaned every surface of his beautiful home made Heracles want to burn everything down to the ground. He’d rather see Athens licking flames than have those symbols of destruction tainting his heart.
Regardless of how he felt, he couldn’t do it. His people were too scarred already, and they needed the comforts of home. Nazi Occupation hadn’t been horrible (yet) but it was still early. Heracles had heard about what happened to Poland, he was no fool. Italy had already come to Greece, and once the Nazis had wrapped Athens around their fingers, Ludwig had graced the city’s walls.
Then, maybe, Japan would come too?
Heracles sighed and slid off his windowsill with a defeated slump. He tore a board from the floor and bustled about in the cobwebs until his hands fell to a small metal box. He tugged the box from its hiding spot and opened it, rummaging through the few Allied documents had had left. He’d destroyed as many as possible when he was occupied, but kept the ones that he needed most. Beneath the massive manila envelopes was a thin, fraying envelope, covered in international postage. Greece closed the box, placed it into the floor, covered it up and went back to the windowsill, basking in the Mediterranean breeze.
He traced the letters of his name in English—Heracles Karpusi— and slid the envelope open to reveal two sheets of old paper, covered in writing from head to toe. The letter had faded patches where Heracles had held them hundreds of times, and the creases were on their way to becoming tears in the parchment. Heracles leaned back against the sill and touched the date at the top of the page.
8 May 1937
The last letter he received from Japan before the war began. It started out cordially enough, with formal greetings and Heracles could practically hear Kiku’s soft voice forming the words and murmuring them into his ear.
Heracles, I apologize for neglecting to respond for such a long time. I was waiting until I had much to write so I could send you a substantial note. I thoroughly enjoyed your last letter, however. Heracles imagined Kiku curled up in a blanket in his small home, holding Heracles’s last letter close to his face and reading the words over and over. Heracles had accidentally caught Kiku doing that very thing one time, and it only made Heracles want to write more frequently.
Everything is in bloom now. It makes me happy to see how well the flowers are doing, especially in such dire times. There are things the world economy does not affect. I’m assuming your flora is doing very well as well.
Heracles hummed to himself and glanced out the window at the city once more; scowling at the sight of the swastikas pasted everywhere. He returned to the letter and flipped over to the second page, where Kiku had lost some of his reserved nature and began writing more freely about what he was feeling.
I miss you, Kiku had written. I miss talking to you in person. I miss your country and its people. I miss the food. Since opening the doors to my home I’ve been enamored with all the world has to offer. But if I must confess, Heracles, yours is my favorite. Heracles tilted his head to the side and took a deep, soothing breath at the calming words. My people seem to be fond of American culture but there are the few who have taken to the way of the Greeks.
It was the closest thing to a love letter that Heracles had ever received.
Somewhere in the depths of the city, Heracles caught a whiff of shouting, but it was coming from too far away for him to make out what was being said. It was most likely some of his citizens making a ruckus and the patrolling Nazi officers trying to quiet them down.
There was a riot in the city today over food stamps. Everyone is sick and cold and hungry and I feel helpless, Heracles. Heracles propped his elbows up on his knees and held the letter close to his face. That’s why I take special care of the flowers. I sent some to you, dried; they’re in the envelope. Heracles had long ago taken those dried cherry blossoms and chrysanthemums and pressed them between pages of his heaviest books, hidden up on the top shelf of his office. They smelled more of Kiku and less like flowers but Heracles was fine with that.
There is some promise in this land, though. I have heard rumors and whispers of a new party forming to strengthen the core of Japan and to revitalize the economy. I am not sure what this would entail, since recently we have been attempting to create democracy. I’m not sure if democracy is right for Japan at this time but, I am willing to try. If not for anything other than the fact that your great nation has survived as a republic for so long, it must be worth something. Heracles dragged his fingertips over the ink on the page. Kiku had put his utmost faith in him. He’d poured his heart out to the Greek. It had taken years for Kiku to finally reach a level of comfort with Heracles where Kiku felt he had a deep bond with someone.
“Oh, Kiku,” Heracles murmured as a breeze picked up and tossed his curly locks. “If I could I would go back in time and rush to Japan as soon as I received this letter to stop them.” Of course, that would have done nothing and he knew it, but it still strained his heart.
Heracles was sure he may start crying if he continued to read the letter, so he tucked it away under his knees and stared out at the dying sun. Heracles had read the rest of the letter so many times he didn’t need it in front of him to know what it said. Maybe the end of the letter could explain why Japan hadn’t written since; maybe he was embarrassed.
I have been thinking about you much, Heracles. Since our last encounter in Greece, as a matter of fact. Forgive me for being so forward like this without being in your presence, but I was wondering when the next time we may meet will be. I’m rather anxious to see you again. I know Pochi is. I’m not exactly sure why I’m so anxious to see you, since we see each other often enough with these world meetings, but I want to see you outside of them as well. You give me a peace and comfort that I cannot explain.
Truth be told, our last time spent together was the best I’ve ever spent with someone. It was so relaxed and wonderful, I wish to experience it again. My heart thumps whenever I think of you.
Heracles didn’t even realize he was staring at nothing until he noticed that the image of Kiku sitting across from him, giving him the warm smile with the small dimples and the deep brown eyes wasn’t real. Heracles licked his dry lips and perked an ear to the sound of more shouting as a cat hopped up onto the windowsill at his feet, rubbing his legs and mewing piteously for attention. Heracles stroked it behind the ears and closed his eyes.
When Heracles had written back to Kiku’s last note, he had responded with one single sentence, written in the minimal Japanese that he knew without a translator.
Watashi mo, itoshi, anata ga inakute sabishii.
I love and miss you, too.
“Mrow?” the cat whimpered, sitting on its haunches and peering at Heracles with its own deep, chocolate brown eyes. It was a small black cat with a white chin and white paws, one that had become very enamored with Kiku when he last visited Greece. Heracles stroked its ear.
“We’ll see him again soon, Iaponía,” Heracles murmured. “He has to respond to my note eventually.”
Iaponía cocked his head and swished his tail. Heracles smiled. The Nazi flag hanging beneath his window fluttered in the wind as the sun fell completely beyond the Mediterranean Sea.
The Nazis invaded and occupied Greece in 1940-41, who remained loyal to the Allies during the entire war. The Greek people also staged hundreds of riots and protests against the Nazis and were always visibly anti-Nazi and anti-Axis. The Italy attempted to invade before Germany did but failed.