(Sometime in the mid-1700s, around the Georgia-Florida border)
Romano growled as he stomped through the underbrush, kicking up dirt and debris as he went. Stupid Spain and his stupid war over some stupid kid that didn't even matter, with that stupid bastard England who could just keep the damn brat, as far as Romano cared. He didn't see why Spain was so interested in this 'America', anyway. He already had Romano, didn't he? Wasn't that enough? What did he need some other kid around for? Stupid Spain. He kicked a rock into some ferns, sulking.
And now Spain had to drag him into it, as usual. As if he cared about some stupid brat. He wouldn't even have come, but... Spain was always away these days fighting one war or another or working doing who-knows-what (read: pirating), and, well...it wasn't as if Romano missed him, or anything, it was just... he was bored, was all. So he'd let Spain drag him here to Florida, 'cause Spain said he wanted to, quote: 'Spend some quality boss-lackey time together, won't that be nice? I know I've been busy lately and haven't been able to spend much time with my precious little henchman, but if you come help I'll make it up to you, I promise! There's so many wonderful things in New Spain! It'll be so much fun! Say you'll come, Romano~~!', and he'd cried and begged so much that, well, Romano had finally given in.
But now they were here, and after the first couple days Romano has hardly even seen Spain. It's always notes delivered by Spain's soldiers promising to make it up to him, whenever Spain was done with whatever he was doing- usually fighting some stupid battle over the stupid kid. Each note ended with 'Soon I'll bring back another cute little henchman for you to play with! Won't that be nice?'. As if Romano wanted some brat around the place, messing with his stuff (and, well, Spain never noticed him when other kids were around- not that Romano cared, but, but... still).
Romano stopped to scrub at his eyes, and froze when a soft sobbing sound caught his ears. W-what was that? He strained his ears, wondering what kind of wild animal was about to burst through the trees and devour him alive. After a few tense seconds of silence, there was another whimpering, sobbing sound. He frowned. That didn't sound like any animal he'd ever heard of. It sounded more like ...someone was crying.
Well, it was none of his business, if they were. Obviously they had come out here to cry alone, so he should just go back the way he'd- his stomach sank as he realized that dammit, he didn't know which direction he'd come from. All the surrounding trees and ferns looked the exactly same as each other, and every other tree and fern he barely remembered passing as he'd walked.
Choosing a direction at random, he started forward.
And tripped over a rock, landing flat on his face on the forest floor.
"Wa, are you okay?"
Romano looked up to see a golden-haired angel perched on a rock not far away, looking down at him, bright blue eyes filled with concern. No, wait- now that he looked closer, he could see bruises on the stranger's face, and tear tracks coursing his cheeks. Not an angel, then, unless things were going as badly in heaven as they were down here, which Romano felt was unlikely.
He pushed himself to his feet, brushing the dirt and debris off his clothes. "What are you lookin' at, bastard?" He growled, frustrated at having been seen in such an embarassing position. Plus, these were new clothes, dammit, which Spain had given him to celebrate his recent growth-spurt (and it was nice to finally be out of that stupid apron-kerchief combo and into some damn trousers and a tunic- with a real hat, for big boys. Finally).
The other boy watched him, unphased.
"And what are you doing out here, anyway? Don't you know how dangerous this place is, idiot? You-"
A whining moan stopped his rant, and he looked up to see (to his horror) the little boy's face scrunching up, tears spilling liberally down his cheeks, fists balling to rub at his eyes.
"W-what's wrong with you, idiot?"
"I-it hurts." The boy hiccuped between sobs. "I, I, I've been trying to h-help E-England like he asked but, but, I, I'm not very strong and I d-don't know w-where he is and h-he s-said those w-were bad men but th-they seemed okay to m-me but Eng- Eng-" He gasped, eyes widening, and wrapped his arms around his stomach, doubling over. "H-hurts." He curled up on his side with a whimper.
So this was America, huh? He'd heard the brat was just a baby, but maybe he'd had a growth spurt recently, too. Seeing the child-nation in such obvious pain, Romano winced despite his earlier animosity. Spain had mentioned in passing that the American colonies had taken some heavy damage in the battles in an attempt to assist England. He could sympathize with what the young nation was going through. He'd been in similar situations countless times- conquered, reconquered, occupied, fought over, in a seemingly endless stream of invaders since Grandpa Rome had passed on. Still... this was America. The whole reason he was in this stupid place to begin with, waiting around for a stupid Spain who never came home.
"S-serves you right for listening to that jerk England." He blustered, crossing his arms.
The boy didn't respond, whimpering softly as he lay curled up in a ball on the rock, and Romano shifted guiltily. Where was that stupid bastard England, anyway? Why wasn't he taking better care of his colony? The kid was way too young to be wandering around on his own, dammit. Spain might be a moron, but even he made sure that Romano never wandered around alone back when he'd been little. Especially during wartime.
Then again, that's probably exactly where stupid Spain and that jerk England were right now- fighting some pointless battle over the brat, heedless of the damage they were causing him with their stupid squabbles.
Fuming inwardly at them both, Romano watched helplessly as the young colony cried himself out, slowly uncurling to lay listlessly on his side, crying silently. Dammit, wars like this were so stupid. This sort of crap was exactly why he and Feliciano had decided long ago not to follow in Grandpa Rome's footsteps. Sure, they might get conquered all the time, but it was better than being the kind of person who did things like this to others.
Romano moved to crouch near him, and prodded his shoulder. "Hey, bastard." America's eyes slid over to look at him, but otherwise he didn't move. "I, I don't have any bandages." He said, frowning. "Where's England staying? We should take you there."
A sniffle. "I don't know." The child nation confessed quietly, and wiped at his tears.
"Well, we need to get you fixed up, dammit. You're hurt pretty badly." Romano admitted reluctantly. "Is there anywhere else we can bring you, idiot?"
"I don't know where everyone went." America sat up, frowning. Then he brightened as a thought occurred to him. "Whenever I got hurt before, England always kisses it better. Maybe you can do that!"
"W-what?" Romano's face flamed. "T-that's stupid! I, I'm not kissing you, idiot!"
"Oh, yeah, you're probably right." The boy nodded sagely. "England's kisses are magical. Yours probably wouldn't work."
"What the hell? My kisses are way better than that lime-sucking bastards!" Romano argued, affronted.
"I don't know..." America said doubtfully. "England got his kisses from the Fairy Queen. They're extra-super special."
"Mine are the best, dammit! They'll make you feel way better than that jerk England's!" And to prove it, he swooped down to press his lips to the startled colony's. Pulling back after barely a second, he crossed his arms with a victorious huff. "So? How was that, bastard?" He asked smugly.
The English territory looked up at him with wide eyes. Blushing, he lifted a hand to finger his lips. "Y-you're not supposed to kiss me on the lips!" He stuttered. "Now we have to get married!"
"W-what?" Scandalized, Romano sputtered incoherently for a moment. "N-no we don't!"
"Yes we do!" The other insisted. "England said only people who're married can kiss on the lips! So we have to get married now!"
Romano gaped. "Buh-, wh-..I-,"
"It's okay though." The blond continued thoughtfully. "I don't mind marrying you. You're nice." Then he blushed, confessing with a bashful smile, "And I like your kisses. They might be even more magical than England's."
"Of cou-" Romano started to gloat, but then it hit him what he'd just done. He'd kissed another boy on the mouth. He flushed scarlet in mortification. "Look," he insisted urgently, "I can't-"
Two familiar voices rang out simultaniously from opposite directions. Both boys' heads snapped toward the source of their respective caretaker's call.
"Gottagoseeyoulater!" America said in a rush, surging up to press his lips to Romano's before bounding off through the trees with a cry of, "ENGLAAAANNND! I'M OVER HERE!"
After a moment of stunned silence, Romano decided to forget this whole incident had ever happened. Spinning on his heel, he headed off in the direction of Spain's voice, yelling, "SPAAAIIIIN! Where the hell ARE you, you bastard?"
(Several months later)
Eventually, America does see Romano again. This time at a meeting between Spain and England, ostensibly to finalize a cessation of hostilities (whether or not either nation will stand by said agreement is questionable). Restless and disinterested, Romano is standing next to end of the table near Spain while the two discuss trade routes and other intensely boring 'important' matters, waiting for the whole thing to be over with so they can finally go home. The tent they're meeting in is hot and stuffy and it's almost time for siesta and really, he hasn't had a decent bath in far too long.
The tomatoes are nice, though.
Romano's just about to die of boredom when there's a commotion outside the tent, and a small, blond blur bursts inside, yelling, "England! England! I know you said to wait but it's hot and boring and- Hey!" Catching sight of Romano, he smiles excitedly and bounds up to throw his arms around the Italian's waist."HI!" He beams up at him, and pushes up on his toes to press a kiss to Romano's lips. Romano freezes.
"America!" England sputters, appalled by his colony's forward behaviour. "What the bloody hell do you think you're doing?"
America, arms still around Romano, tilts his head curiously to blink innocently at his colonizer. "It's okay, England! This is the boy I'm going to marry!"
"C-c-c-c-" Spain stutters apoplectically, seemingly unable to get anything else out.
"WHAAAT?" England roars. "Over my dead body, you will! Spain! Don't you have anything to say about this, this...wanton behaviour?"
"Soooo cuuuute!" Spain wails, flailing his arms. "So, so cuuute! Adorable! Oh, I wish I had a painting of this moment! Sooo cuuute!"
"It is not cute, dammit!" Both England and Romano yell at the same time, and stop to blink at each other briefly, horrified that they agree on something. Dismissing it in interest of more pressing matters, England turns back to the ecstatic latin across the table. "What is wrong with you? Surely you can see that this is...is..." he gestures furiously, unable to find the words to describe how bad this situation truly is in his mind, "it's, it's a bloody travesty, is what it is! Your 'precious little henchman' is seducing my baby!"
"Oh come on England, lighten up! My little Romano isn't seducing anybody. They're babies! They won't even remember this in a few years." Spain grins, beaming at the scene. "Besides, isn't it just the cutest thing you've ever seen? Sooo Cuuuute!"
"Well..." England grumbles reluctantly after a moment's thought, turning to look at the children. "You might be right. They are just kids..."
"What's 'wonton behaviour'?" America whispers loudly to Romano, whom he's still holding fast to. (Romano's been trying to struggle free, but the boy's grip is like iron. What is England feeding this brat?)
"Get off me, idiot." Romano orders, and the younger colony pouts.
"Why? We're getting married, right? So it's okay." He says. "Besides, I like kissing you! You're really pretty!" He adds, moving up to press another kiss to the deeply embarrassed Italian's lips, and Romano's face flames.
"Alright, that is IT!" England yells, and stomps over to haul America off Romano by the back of his collar. "We are going. You and I are going to have a serious talk, young man."
"Why are you mad, England? We're going to get married, so I can kiss him, right? That's what you said." America asks confusedly as he allows himself to be dragged off. "And he's got magic kisses too!"
"You are far too young to be kissing or, or getting married! Only grown-ups do those things." England informs him furiously, flushing in anger and embarrassment. He never should have let the damn frog watch the boy while he was away. He only hoped the damage was reversible.
"Oh, okay." America turned as they exited the tent, shouting back to Romano, "I'll work hard to grow up real fast! Then we can get married, so wait for me, okay? It's a promise!" He beams and waves as England yanks him outside with a growl.
England sticks his head back through the tent flap just long enough to shout, "And you keep your little Jezebel away from my innocent America! Or else!"
Grinning and unphased by the island nation's threat, Spain turns to ruffle his 'lackey's' hair. "Romano~, you little charmer, you! I'm so proud! I knew you had it in you! You two are just soooo cuuuute!" He claps his hands in glee, adding in his best 'Boss' voice, "I expect to have lots of adorable grandchildren when you two get married, understand?"
At that, Romano stomps out of the tent as well, growling, "I'm going to take a siesta, dammit! Leave me alone!"
(As he sleeps in the afternoon heat, he may or may not dream of bruised angels, of bright blue eyes, of soft lips and magic kisses.)
(Present day, or thereabouts)
"America's looking at you again." Feliciano whispered, leaning close to his brother as the speaker droned on about who-knew-what, corn or some stupid shit, Romano didn't care. It had jack-all to do with him anyway, and he had a headache. He'd had that dream again. The same one he'd been having on and off for centuries, and he still didn't know what it meant, if anything. It was always the same- a confused succession of faded images and sensations (soft lips on his, a magic kiss, a voice echoing "..wait for me.."), which left him to wake up confused and frustrated, and feeling like he was forgetting something. Something important.
And America was staring at him again, which always made him nervous and...some weird, apprehensive feeling that settled in his stomach and put him off his meals afterward. Something like hope and disappointment and confusion, all rolled into one. He wasn't sure. All he knew was that it was damn uncomfortable.
"Just ignore it." He responded irritably.
"Ve~." His brother frowned, watching the blond watching his brother with furrowed brows. "I wonder why he keeps staring at you? He's done it for long as I can remember."
"He hasn't even been around for as long as you remember, idiot." Romano contradicted. "And forget about it. He'll get distracted soon enough, and I don't want to think about it right now. My head is killing me, dammit."
"That dream again?" His brother asked sympathetically.
"Yeah." Romano sighed, rubbing at his temples. "I should see if there's something I can take to make it stop. Pills, or something. A lobotomy, dammit."
"Don't do that, Romano~! It could be something important." Feliciano protested.
"If it was important, I would have remembered it already."
"We'll figure it out in time, I'm sure of it."
"There's been time. Lots of time. Too much time, dammit. I'm tired of it already. 'Wait for me'? Wait for who? I don't even know what I'm supposed to be waiting for." He sat back in his seat, frustrated, crossing his arms. "First thing after the meeting I'm going to the doctor to see what I can do to get rid of it. "
"Ve~." His brother sighed, leaning against his arm. "Okay. If it bothers you that much, I'll come with you."
"Alright." Romano nodded, ignoring the sinking feeling in his stomach. It was the right thing to do, dammit. He couldn't take it anymore.
Now if only America would stop staring at him, everything would be alright.
America fidgeted with his pen, staring hard at South Italy. He knew it was rude to stare, but...for as long as he remember, every time he saw the Italian he'd get this strange nagging feeling, like he was forgetting something, something...important. Something he needed to remember. He felt like if he looked hard enough, then whatever it was would come to him and relieve him of this weird feeling and the aching one in his heart that accompanied it, like he'd lost something even more important than a memory.
He'd tried before, but something always came up to distract him- revolutions, wars, business matters, whatever, and the second he looked away the feeling would disappear and he wouldn't remember it until he next saw the Italian nation. He'd finished his business for today, though, and the speaker was droning on about...wheat? Whatever. He didn't know, and didn't care, 'cause he had to try and break this...spell or mental block or whatever you wanted to call it that kept him from figuring out what it was about South Italy that made his heart ache like this sometimes.
If he could just figure it out, then everything would be alright. He had a vague impression that it had something to do with...magic, right? But...he didn't believe in magic. Except...except for... his eyes narrowed.
"Ve~, he looks kind of angry, now." Feliciano observed nervously.
"Just ignore it, Feliciano." Romano said tensely. He didn't care, he didn't care, dammit. Even if America did look kind of upset and it was kind of intimidating and starting to worry him. He thought back frantically- had he ever done something that would get the American pissed at him? Not that he could remember offhand. Well, there was that one time when he drank the last of the coffee in the breakroom before America could get to it and the other nation had had to brew a fresh pot but the break was over before it'd finished and he ended up not having any and falling asleep at the meeting, but, that was ages ago. He couldn't hold a grudge over that, could he?
"Maybe we should ask him-" Feliciano started, and Romano interrupted, leaning over to hiss frantically,
"Are you crazy? We can't just ask him why he's mad at-"
"I REMEMBER!" America shouted, slamming his hand down on the table (causing a hairline fracture to form along its length, but everyone was too relieved to have a distraction from the stupid report about barley hybrids to notice). As everyone turned to look at him, he jumped to his feet, pointing at Romano. "YOU!"
Everyone's heads swung to watch the Italian.
"W-w-w-what? I didn't do it I didn't do it I'm sorry about the coffee I didn't know you wanted-" Romano sputtered, terrified, as America jumped on the table and strode toward him. His brother crouched behind his chair, crying.
"South Italy!" America exclaimed, jumping down from the table next to Romano and seizing the Italian's hands. "I remember! I'm soooo sorry it took me so long and I'll make it up to you I promise but I remember now so it's alright!"
"I didn't do- w-wait, make what up to me?" Romano struggled to escape from the crazy nation's grasp, teary-eyed and terribly confused.
"What did you do to my brother?" Feliciano popped his head over the back of Romano's chair to ask, frowning.
"I didn't do anything to him. We're just going to be married!" America announced, beaming, still holding fast to Romano's hands.
"What?" Gasped Feliciano, hands over his mouth.
"What?" Yelped Romano, staring at the taller nation, aghast.
"YOU SAID THEY WOULDN'T REMEMBER!" England roared, jumping to his feet to point accusingly at Spain.
"OHMYGODTHIS IS SOOO CUUUUTE!" Spain flailed, beaming excitedly. "I expect to have lots of cute grandchildren, you hear?" He ordered, pointing at the couple.
"Okay! We can do that." America beamed back, nodding. "I'll get my scientists right on it. We're doing great things in cloning these days, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a way to splice our genes."
"Wonderful! Then you have my full approval." Spain announced, looking around. "Can we get a camera in here? I want pictures of this moment!"
"Already on it." Hungary piped up, snapping away.
Sweden raised a hand. "T'no 'nd I'd like t'join 'n on th' children th'ng. Se'l'nd needs s'm s'blings."
"No problem!" America agreed. "I'll have my people contact yours and we can get together on the research!"
Romano could only watch in mounting horror as the whole world went mad.
"I didn't know you were engaged to America, Romano~!" His brother exclaimed, chastisingly.
"I didn't either!" Romano defended, and turned to America, finally succeeding in yanking his hands free. "Since when am I engaged to you, bastard?"
"I'm not sure of the exact date, I was pretty young then." America answered, pondering. "Sometime in the mid-eighteenth century, about?"
"I don't remember anything about that, idiot!" Romano argued, straightening his clothes. "I can't marry you just 'cause you think we're engaged!"
"I don't think we're engaged, I know it!" America stated, pouting slightly. "I promised, remember?"
"I just told you I don't remember anything about that, dammit! This is crazy!"
"No it isn't!" America protested. "And it's okay if you don't remember, 'cause I do!"
"Ve~, why do you want to marry my brother so much, America?" Feliciano wondered, grasping the back of his brother's shirt in case he had to pull him away from the possibly crazy nation. If his brother said they weren't engaged, then...
"'Cause he has magic kisses!" America beamed, then added, "And he's really nice. And I promised." He took Romano's hands in his own again, and continued earnestly, "I'm sorry it took me so long to remember. I worked hard to grow up fast just like I promised, so now we can get married, okay? Did you wait for me?"
("..wait for me..") Romano blinked, the echo of a long-forgotten voice in his head. His brother's eyes went wide. "Romano!" He whispered, urgently.
"I know." Romano whispered back, staring at the blond nation. Bright blue eyes that had once looked up at him now looked down, but he was remembering...soft lips on his, magic kisses, and a voice...
"You're late, bastard." He growled accusingly, blinking back tears.
"I know." America smiled warmly. "And I'm sorry. I'll make it up to you. I promise." He added, pulling the Italian in for a kiss.
"You'd better, bastard." Romano murmured, just before their lips met. As his arms wrapped themselves around America's neck and the chaos around them (the chatter of the assembled nations, England's furious protests, Spain's delighted flailing, the flash of Hungary's camera, Feliciano's excited 'Ve'-ing) melted away, he had to admit that maybe, just maybe, their kisses were pretty magical.