Ethereal Threads of Fate
That time, when he delivered the revelation, France wasn't entirely sure how to say it, or what to do afterwards. He expected it—very much—to be so hard on the nation before him to receive. He had readied himself to see a breakdown, or maybe even for the Italian to put all of the blame on him (which really, France admitted, was close to the truth). Nonetheless, it didn't go as well as he predicted. Not with the blank stare Italy gave him, nor with the stillness in his movement as though the Italian had suddenly turned to stone. But somehow, young Italy's lips managed to part in a reluctant U-shape.
"It's not like I didn't know what was to come, Big Brother France," it was shaky, yet for the first time in his life France was seeing the strong part of Italy—fortitude it was, and not something he'd ever expected from the weak teenaged nation.
"Italy, I want you to know that although I was responsible, I—"
"Nations like us have nothing to say about what the people choose…"
Yet again, France clammed up. He had lost to Italy, not physically, but the child was certainly proving to be more than his look. Had he really missed something? Or was it all the work of his arrogance and indulgence in the long war that had caused him to oversee Italy's depth?
"I'm sure Holy Roman understood what was becoming of him. His fate as a nation."
And with those final lines, Italy turned around and traversed the corridor that used to belong to a nation named Holy Roman Empire; gradually disappearing into the darkness some parts of the house emitted. Shaking his head in sheer stupefaction, France watched him go until the boy was out of his vision, completely couldn't muster himself to do anything more.
Pitiful for him, considering how he had practised countless times what he should do when this time came.
Maybe, Romano was the first one to realize something negligible in his brother's behaviour.
The thing was in the way he spoke, perhaps. It occasionally messed up, and clearly Romano could see Veneziano wasn't paying attention to him, to anyone.
Or maybe it was in the way he walked. The clumsy Veneziano was an everyday show, but now he seemed constantly alert. He didn't—or maybe hadn't done anything stupid all day. But Romano would want to think that it was merely Veneziano's lucky day, despite how ridiculous it sounded even to his own ears.
However, the way Veneziano missed his siestas, or the visage that sometimes lost its cheeriness and easiness, above all other matters, were the things which convinced Romano that Veneziano was really not being himself. Perhaps his brother was really—
That smile came back to him, and Romano stared with narrowed eyes.
But were Veneziano's eyes also participating in his smile? Romano was thinking, very hard even, but it wasn't that easy for him to read whatever it was that lurked behind his brother's gleaming gaze.
Was it because of his years of experience for being an ignorant person, or was it really his ability to read people was as low as the Italian blood running inside his vessels allowed him to be, that he really couldn't guess what was weird with his brother?
"Ve… Isn't he cute?"
The cat purred inside Veneziano's embrace, as minutes later the North Italy began to roll over in the grass, ignoring how dirty and messy his clothes—his apron would get.
And seeing how the felicity had claimed Veneziano's entire being again, Romano bit back all of his thoughts almost immediately. The heat must have made him think of things that didn't suit him. Maybe it would be better for him to start undoing his clothes and surrender to the sun above.
But it was unfortunate for him, to miss the whisper Veneziano had slipped out of his lips while lying on his side, eyes half-lidded with a part of his face buried by the grass that smelt like the sun.
Hungary and Austria tried hard to understand him. Very hard. But he wouldn't be North Italy, if he were that easy to understand.
Sometimes they exchanged words; Austria would secretly ask about what Italy was doing to Hungary while the girl was alone with the dirty dishes in the sink, and she would sigh and shake her head in equal confusion, saying that once again she had not understood what the boy was thinking.
Holy Roman Empire did not occupy a small part of Italy's heart, because he had taken the whole little Italy's heart, and he still did in the current Italy. But post Holy Roman Empire's dissolution, did Austria and Hungary ever see Italy cry?
He was such a cry-baby; the entire world must have known the fact. But now, seeing how Italy managed to stay calm and was able to endure the cruelty of their fates as nations—Holy Roman Empire's fate, silently the two countries grew a tiny bit of respect for Italy.
Looked like the tiny useless country wasn't all that tiny on the inside.
Consequently, they started to forget their worries, started to take everything easily, and failed to notice the battles raging inside the object of their concern. It was during that time, while Austria and Hungary were too busy in their own personal matters to pay attention to him, Italy had quietly gone to where his mind told him he had to.
Dark. Dull. Those two words should be the ones that described a normal situation in every residence late after midnight. But France's house was always luminous, complete with glorified Baroque Music playing somewhere in one of its ballroom. As expected of the French. Every night was party time.
He wasn't wearing any of the formal or fashionable outfits one should wear to a ball, Italy did not own any of those, nor did he plan to attend a party. All messy and sweaty from running, he came in his simple shirt and a pair of trousers Austria bought for him.
But years of knowing France made Italy know where to head, without letting himself be seen by the guests. He did not come to attack, or do something dangerous to the citizens of France, thence he wasn't scared even if they did see him. A simple talk. Yes, Italy merely needed a simple conversation with France. Just a quick chat, and then he would leave.
"Italy! You surprised me!"
France exclaimed, wide eyed and baffled, as he dragged his half-drunk self to anywhere private with his typical nonchalant attitude.
"I never thought you'd visit me, and did Austria even give you his permission?"
"Well, Big Brother France, no matter what, I feel like I had to see you," smiling as gleefully as ever, Italy followed behind until they stopped in front of what Italy knew was France's chamber.
Lacking part of his ability to think properly, France swayed inside, stumbling into his own bed, somehow managing to not crash onto the bed's pillars. Not long after France had overcome the difficulty of dropping himself into the deliciously puffy and comfortable bed, the sound of a door being shut and locked echoed behind him.
"But I didn't know that you'd be this drunk, Big Brother."
Slowly opening his eyes, France found himself still lying on his stomach. His ears could faintly hear the soft thuds Italy made as he walked up behind him. He couldn't decipher what it was Italy was talking about, and the temptation to give up entirely on the conversation and go to sleep almost got the better of him.
"Big Brother France." Said nation's breath caught in his throat as Italy's warm breath tickled his now overly sensitive ear. The feeling of Italy's flesh against his back wasn't entirely unpleasant, but the way the younger nation talked was...unsettling.
"Have you ever wondered if Holy Roman ever had the chance to know how it feels to be drunk?"
And France was up completely. Eyes snapped open wide in an instant, but still he stayed in the exact same position under the pressure given by Italy. Crawling on the bed, Italy now sat on France's calves, legs swinging playfully by the bed side.
"I know Big Brother France is not at fault. But it is sad to think that Holy Roman had never been given the chance to grow up."
Striving hard to tilt his head as far as he could and sensing his neck tremble from the attempt, France felt like something was blocking his throat.
"There are voices."
Allowing a good silent moment to pass by, Italy skipped to the floor, giving France the freedom to turn around and sit up properly.
"There are voices inside me. I tried to ignore them, but they're getting louder."
"What kind of voices?" France wasn't sure how to response to Italy, he didn't even get where this conversation could be going to. And Italy, he was still wearing the same expression, the same reluctant smile that France failed to notice under the influence of alcohol.
"Why Holy Roman had to vanish, why he was given such fate while I'm still here despite my weakness, why I let him go that time..."
"—why did big brother France kill him?"
Even opening his mouth to express how pained he was, felt like something impossible for France to muster now. The chill of sheer cold as though he was in the middle of war in the land of Russia crawled over his skin, although summer was never known for its cold. No, summer was not winter, even France knew that.
Italy's smile faded ever so slowly, slamming his gaze onto the floor and bringing hands to his head; fingers tangled between the brown-strands. "I can't get them out of my head, I can't calm down, I tried to convince myself that it wasn't big brother France's mistake, but..." He looked at France's shocked eyes, as for the first time in his life France shivered under Italy's gaze—and really, the Italian wasn't smiling.
"…But it was big brother France's mistake, wasn't it?"
France sucked a deep breath, and swallowed.
"I—Italy... Look, I—"
"Did you hear Holy Roman's cry?"
France's lips halted in guilt, losing all his pretty words. His heart stirred and something ugly began twirling inside his stomach, urging the two litre of red wine he'd had earlier to escape from his mouth—but France fought it.
It wasn't implausible if the one he was talking to was England. The manipulative and stubborn nation was born as he was, and France wouldn't be surprised to see England snap and lose to anger. And God, they weren't enemies for nothing.
To see Italy—the ever cheerful country acting like this because of him, France couldn't deliberate what to say. What he feared was... whether Italy with his naiveté could handle the anger as well as other people did or not. But... What could he do? What could he do to comfort the boy who was now cutting their distance?
"No, I think he didn't cry," Italy chuckled with a fist before his lips, jolting France back out of his thinking. The brown-haired nation looked as sweet as ever, but with all of the things he had said, it was starting to raise goose bumps on France's skin. "He is proud. He is Holy Roman Empire after all."
It was hard. It was hard for France, but...
"Italy, I understand how you feel. And I understand how Holy Roman Empire felt. I had no choice either, I mean... I really didn't mean to..."
Tilting his head to the side, an arm's length away from France now, Italy's eyebrows curled and his feature screamed in sorrow mixed with incredulity.
"How could a killer understand how the victim felt?"
Gaping like a fish without water was probably what could describe France's state the best. He moved his mouth in an attempt to say anything, yet no words succeeded in sliding out. Curse the wine, the liquid he was always so proud about. He had just dug his own grave.
Italy continued to stare, his eyes sparking with something unreadable, and suddenly his hand slipped inside his trouser pocket and scooped a tiny transparent bottle out of it. The liquid inside it seemed like water, and France was completely lost about understanding what would come next. He only knew that his shoulder was grabbed all of a sudden, and Italy was now right before him—so close that Italy's faint scent tickled his nostrils.
The younger boy flipped open the bottle with one hand, one of his legs coming up to brace himself in France's lap. And before France could blink, Italy had poured all the liquid into his own mouth, crushing it to France's right after. France's bloodshot eyes went wide, but he couldn't pull away. And it was then that he realized the scent did not belong to Italy. It was the liquid.
The numb feeling inside his mouth failed to tell him whatever it was Italy had made him drink. His throat burned, and he choked on air as he coughed and coughed, trying to spit out whatever it was that felt like killing his senses. But as his whole body shook in pain, Italy locked him into a tight hug—so tight that it hurt.
His breathing was clogged, it was like there was a huge stone that was pressing his chest, and at the same time a flame started to rage inside him. His skin itched; it felt like millions of ants walked across every inch of him, crawling under his skin, bursting into his vessels and biting at his organs. He wanted to scratch. So bad. Yet his hands went limp as the remaining energy was kicked out of him. He fell back down on the bed, breathing so harsh and heavy that it sounded like an old kettle, mind clouded but eyes forced wide open.
Because it itched. It hurt. He needed to scream. But he couldn't, couldn't do anything but lie there in pain.
"Big Brother France," Italy pressed down harder onto France's lap, fingers now embracing the tiny bottle carefully, whilst the blonde merely granted him wide eyes, completely wrecked and confused. "I took a little of Austria's collections. It's the essence of alcohol. A hundred percent, at that."
...And why would you give it to me? France desperately wanted to shout, but he was still forced to listen in silence while the ants on his skin began piercing and daggering his whole body.
"It's bad you know, alcohol essence is not to be drunk by itself. But Big Brother France has even had wine before this, so the effect is doubled."
Sliding his fingers down to France's wildly pumping chest, Italy let the bottle unceremoniously hit the floor with a loud clank. His hands travelled up the thin white shirt France was wearing slowly, opening the buttons and spreading his fingers to cup France's warm chest, ignoring the flimsy hair his palms could sense.
"But no matter how bad it is for humans, Big Brother France would still live, right?"
He griped the skin harshly in a flash as he spoke, digging the nails deep into the surface of France's skin in the progress—causing said blonde to open his mouth wide and scream, inaudibly.
Ten red scars claimed their glory over France's bosom, across the nipples, traversing the chest hair. Droplets of blood could be seen sliding down the surface, soaking the white fabric France was wearing. And the ants, the ants that made France want to roll aimlessly, madly, only to make them go away, now clawing their tiny little feet on each scar, burning them, forcing France to almost lose his sanity. If only he hadn't lost the ability to move, he would have surely grabbed a knife and ripped his own chest open to stop the pain.
"I'm sorry..." Now the teenage Italy started to weep, fingers still deepening their furrows in France's flesh, as though he wanted to break it apart and steal the pulsating heart out of him. "I'm sorry, but if I don't do this, I might hate Big Brother France forever..."
The tears, which were dropped from Italy's eyes as he pleadingly stared at France's frightened gaze, were not helping France at all. It worsened the burning feelings, in fact, and France could hear the imaginary hissing sounds as they hit his wounds. His vision started to spin, and his own breathing echoed within his head like a never ending funeral anthem. And God, his blood, it felt like his blood was boiling and fighting to explode out of its fragile arteries.
"I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, I promise I will be a good boy again starting tomorrow…" The Italian continued to cry, carried on clasping France's skin, "I… I don't want to hate Big Brother France, I really don't, but the voices... My head hurts..."
But Italy paused his sobbing for a moment, softening his eyes and pressing his chest on top of France's.
"Big Brother France's willing to help me, right?"
Nothing came out from France's mouth, obviously. Only a horrified expression and emotions shifting between regret, fear and anger radiated from the blond nation. Subsequently, a smile made its way back onto Italy's lips. The same idiotic smile he always wore every single day.
"I wonder why we nations won't die even though we go through conditions humans could die from," he murmured tenderly, shutting his eyes and leaning his cheek to listen to France's frantic breathing. "But we can easily be killed by a single paper and signatures. Like Holy Roman."
As hard as it was for France to admit, Italy's words were like salt, they worsened his wounds. Very much.
Sighing as he straightened his back into a sitting position again, Italy shook his head before fully turning on his heels, still with his lips' corners tugged upwards. "So rest assured, Big Brother France. You won't die. Look, the scars are healing, right? Even though maybe you still feel like you're dying."
Yes. Die. Why did it sound so good now? France really felt his life was starting to leave his body..., or so he hoped. But they both knew it wouldn't; as long as his people were left unharmed.
Raising his brows lightly at France's suffering, Italy simply stepped backward, taking the transparent bottle and spinning around to unlock the door by the time he felt his back had met the end of the room. He did glance over his shoulder, nonetheless, as his hand turned the door knob. Soft were his eyes; his overall expression was a mixture of something one would not be able to guess. And of course, France was no exception, moreover in his current state. Italy's figure was something he couldn't even see from where he was lying on.
However, on the verge of losing consciousness, France had sworn, that a whisper managed to greet his ears vaguely.
"I'm sure Big Brother France would taste what Holy Roman felt someday."
Cracking noises resounded here and there—before him, and behind him. Giant flames danced over the night sky, the remains of the burning town almost couldn't be seen. There was smoke everywhere, ashes all over the place. And Italy was standing in silence, observing the chaos he had caused.
Sensing a firm tap on his shoulder, Italy turned his head to face the tall, muscled man with blue eyes and golden hair. The way the man stared at him in deep worry and care sprayed water onto his burning heart. The heart which had been aching and crying until just now.
"Ve, Germany. You come to fetch me?"
The blond nation suppressed a yelp as Italy wrapped him in a tight hug, practically jumping and crashing their bodies together.
"We—well, it is rare to see you this useful, but this is enough. We shouldn't go too far, otherwise everything will backfire on us," light pink blushes tainted his cheeks as the guy tried to push Italy away, grabbing the Italian's shoulders gently. "It's better for us to go home and make further plans."
"I see. But isn't this great, what we've achieve this far?" Italy spread his arms open, grinning just a little too wide for Germany's liking. The nonchalant nation might not understand the danger of his action, but again, Germany was more tickled about the fact that Italy had suddenly gotten into the spirit regarding the World War Two they were currently in. Moreover, it was France that they were attacking now. Wasn't Italy and France's relationship closer than any of those Italy had with England, Russia or America?
"You know, it's saddening to hurt Big Brother France," Italy spoke up out of the blue as though answering Germany's thought; his eyes back to scanning the raging flames behind them. "But it is something that Big Brother France must experience."
"...What do you mean?"
Shifting his eyes towards the puzzled nation, Italy's visage was gentle, and Germany would swear that he had almost mistaken Italy's gaze as love... or something along those lines. Or could it be...?
But responding to Germany's question, Italy just chuckled and grinned his trademark idiotic grin, walking towards where they had retreated to. And when Germany shouted and followed him, nearly losing his patience for guessing about what happened with Italy, the brown-haired nation widened his laugh and hooked Germany's arm with his own.
"Grandpa Rome said a nation should understand what the other nations go through in order to grow!" he exclaimed childishly although his eyes didn't fail to see how Germany's face changed due to his respect for the Roman Empire. "And this is only a tiny bit of what Holy Roman Empire went through."
His words were not meant to be finished ever, though, because in an instant Italy had pulled his arm so strongly that it made him almost trip.
"Let's go home, Germany! Let's go home before England comes!"
"Wh—Hey, Italy, stop dragging me, hey!"
"You might not need it, but this time I'll work hard to cover you every time Germany in a pinch!" he exclaimed, making Germany stared at him in stunned silence. But seeing the childish kindness glimmering in Italy's face, Germany decided he wouldn't ask about the weird statement of 'this time', nor would he discuss any further the enigma Italy was proving to be today. Because his chest simply felt lightened just by staring at the carefree expression, and maybe it was the feeling people called happiness.
Yet, whilst the two axis powers safely strolled out of the borderline with rows of soldiers tailing them behind in laughter and cheeriness, a blond, shoulder-length haired nation cupped his stomach tight, blood streaming from his slightly parted mouth. His legs were shaking as he stalked all the way to where the city burnt, and occasionally coughing out smoke he had inhaled.
He bitterly grimaced as another shot of pain struck him, and some reminiscences of the old days he was trying hard to believe were a bad dream started to rush back into his vision. Or maybe the fact that his internal organs were bleeding due to the fact that one of his vital regions had been crushed down, was what had made him think of Italy's whisper that time was not just a dream...
"I'm sure Big Brother France would taste what Holy Roman felt someday."