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Beauty and the Beach

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"You really should be wearing some sort of cover-up."

Hungary sighed. It wasn't the first time she'd heard the words that day and she could only hope it would be the last. Initially, she'd been ecstatic at the fact that Austria had agreed to come with her to the beach, but now she was almost regretting it. "I put on sunscreen, didn't I?" she asked. Determined to hold onto her good mood, she let a mischievous little smile come to her mouth. "I even let you help me apply it, just so you could be sure I didn't miss a spot."

Despite himself, Austria blushed. A moment later, however, he cleared his throat and regained his composure. A frown flickered across his face, and his hand, she noticed, had begun fidgeting almost worriedly with the pages of the book he was trying to read. "But even waterproof sunscreen dilutes over time from sweat and swimming," he pointed out. "Physically covering the skin is still the best way to ensure protection against the sun's rays."

Hungary sighed again and leveled an exasperated look at him. At the very least, he put his money where his mouth was in that respect, sporting a long-sleeved white shirt over his upper torso and taking full advantage of the over-sized umbrella they'd brought. Really, it was a minor miracle she'd even been able to convince him to wear swim trunks instead of full-on pants; usually he was so against the idea of publicly baring any part of his legs above the ankle, one would think he was still stuck in the Victorian era, and as a woman at that.

"So what am I supposed to do?" she demanded. "Stay inside and forego enjoying the sun altogether?"

"I'm not opposed to you enjoying the sun, it's just—" He broke off as a handful of men in their early-twenties walked by, carrying volleyball equipment. A couple of them stared at her appreciatively and Austria frowned again.

"Wait a minute," Hungary said, suddenly putting two and two together. "Is that what this is all about? Not because of the sun at all, but because you're jealous other men are seeing me so exposed?" Coming from him, it was so uncharacteristic and stereotypically male that Hungary almost wanted to pull out her phone so that she could record it for sheer posterity. As it was, a huge, incredulous grin had spread across her face, and she couldn't have reined it back in if her life depended on it.

Austria didn't find it quite so funny. He huffed, a faint blush coloring his cheeks, and had gone back to fidgeting with the pages of his book. "I know it isn't my place to dictate what you wear," he admitted, a little stiffly, "but…you're very…"—he struggled to find the appropriate word—"alluring in that bathing suit." He also, she noticed, seemed to be struggling to keep his eyes from lingering on certain parts of her body, his libido apparently warring with his sense of propriety.

Hungary just barely resisted the urge to laugh out loud. All this over a swimsuit, and not even one she would consider particularly risqué. It was a bikini, sure, but it was also distinctly retro in style. High-waisted, with ample bosom and butt coverage, it was downright conservative when one compared it to most modern two-piece suits. Leave it to Austria to find something fifty years out of fashion unbearably sexy.

"Well," she said, taking the opportunity to coyly crawl closer to him, "did you ever think to try a more direct approach when it came to discouraging the affections of other men?" She leaned on her arms so as to accentuate her cleavage, and was rewarded by Austria swallowing uncomfortably. Hungary smiled in perverse satisfaction. It served him right, for the way he'd been badgering her all afternoon.

"A…m-more direct approach, you say?"

"Mm," she hummed, nodding her head. "A little show of possessiveness here or there won't hurt." Pointedly, she let her own gaze drop. "And if you could be talked into unbuttoning your shirt, there might just be enough room in there for me, too."

A slight smile and a gamely spark came to his own face, then, and he set his book off to the side as he began picking open his buttons. "So you're conceding to a cover-up, after all?"

"Well," she said, as she turned around, leaned back into his bare chest, and let him wrap his shirttails around her, "as you said, it is the best way to protect oneself from the sun."