"C'mon, West, you can't back out now!"
"Just do it!"
"Kiss him, kiss him!"
The chorus of excited encouragement echoed around Germany's spinning head. To be honest, this whole situation was his fault; from the moment that Prussia had proposed the idea of a Christmas party he just knew that it would end up badly. Yet he'd still gone along with it in his foolishness, not to mention drinking far too many glasses of mulled wine.
So really, he only had himself to blame for the fact that he and Italy were isolated in the centre of the room with a sprig of mistletoe hovering over their heads. This was one of those rare moments when Italy had his eyes fully open; alive with a fiercely bright hopefulness. And when he leaned in closer, smiling nervously as he did so, Germany found himself unable to think properly anymore.
He'd never seen his friend's lips looking so soft before, or so... kissable. Barely aware of himself, he found his arms wrapping around Italy's body, and his head tilting to the side so their faces were level. Everyone seemed to have fallen into an awed silence, or else ceased to exist. Italy was the only one who mattered anymore, so close to him now that he could feel his quickening breaths against his own cheek. Germany took a gulp of air to steel himself, and swallowed hard. This was it, his one chance. He couldn't afford to mess anything up, he just-
"Hhhhhh- haaaahhh-" Ferocious irritation caught suddenly in Germany's nostrils and his breath stilted in preparation. In a split second of horrendous realisation, he scrabbled to pull away. "HAT'SCHHUU!"
A unison of multilingual blessings all over the room followed, but Germany barely heard any of them. His heart sank down to the pit of his stomach and his face flared with crimson shame. 'Scheiße... what have I done?'
Horrified, he broke apart from Italy and took a step back, accidently brushing against the mistletoe in the process. In an instant, the pain bit back with fierce intensity, making his eyes and nose prickle and his skin raw with inflammation.
"Mein Gott, West!" Germany looked up through blurred and smarting eyes to see Prussia's watery form swimming before him. "What the hell's making you like this?"
Wordlessly, Germany gestured above him, before ducking his head to another harsh sneeze.
"Mistletoe?" Prussia reached out a hand to yank it down, "But... I swear mistletoe doesn't have any flowers, how can-?"
"I-I think it might be my fault." Hungary's sheepish voice carried clearly from where she stood with Austria by the fireplace, "I made that sprig and... I put Christmas roses with it too. I always have done."
From Prussia' hand, the plant was clearer, and Germany could see dots of small white flowers hidden beneath the green. Astonished, he rubbed at his itching nose.
"Germany, I'm so sorry!" Hungary continued, shaking her head, "If I had known..."
Germany tried to reply, but containing the sting in his nose was already taking up too much of his energy. Blinking back allergic tears, he scanned the crowd surrounding him. Verdammt, where had Italy gone? He had to be there somewhere...
"C'mon," Prussia's hand pressed reassuringly against his shoulder, leading him through the crowd, "I think you need a lie-down, West. Clear your head for a bit."
"Nein, I'm- I'm—f-fine."
"Nah. You're not."
Leading him over to the other side of the room, his bother deposited him on an unoccupied sofa. Germany struggled immediately to stand back up.
"I don't think so." Prussia pushed him back firmly, "Best if you just sleep it off. The allergen and the wine."
Germany sniffled hard and let himself collapse back. He still felt like he was being ambushed by itchiness and his head was in a daze, half with alcohol, half with the thought of what had just happened. All of a sudden, his eyelids felt heavy, and his vision began to flitterer in and out of focus. As he began to drift off, he could vaguely hear a conversation in the back of his mind; urgent exchanges coming from the two people who behind him;
"I know what you are going to say. I am sure it is just a coincidence."
"But he's allergic to my Christmas roses! There's only one other person I've ever seen like that."
"Agreed, but we cannot make presumptions based on mere chance."
"But just say-" "Don't. Do not even contemplate it, Hungary. You know nothing will come of it."
Then Germany's mind let go and he heard no more.
Every Christmas, Holy Rome's house became transformed into a palace of festivity.
This year was no exception either; a large tree stood proudly in the entrance hall, Miss Hungary had been working hard for hours hanging up decorations, and even Austria entertained everyone with renditions of carols on the piano. And yet, the only one who was unable to get into the Christmas spirit was Holy Rome himself.
Standing alone beside the window, he stared out vacantly into the snowy garden beyond, trying to ignore the tug of longing in his chest. It was that same pain that he'd been feeling for a while now; the ache he got every time he thought about the maid. Those carefree giggles... the beautiful dresses... the way the world seemed to light up every time she smiled... it was impossible for get her out of his head.
"Holy Rome? Are you listening to me?"
Holy Rome turned with a start to see his Master standing by the door, arms folded in an austere manner.
"You are required downstairs." he told him, clicking his tongue impatiently, "In the kitchens."
Holy Rome couldn't help spluttering at that. "The kitchens?"
"That is correct. It is imperative that you come immediately."
Never before had he been summoned to the kitchens. This was technically his house, after all, even if Austria was the Master here, and only the servants were supposed to enter the kitchens usually. Slightly confused, he started to make his way out, but Austria stopped him before he could leave.
"Ah, wait one moment."
Kneeling down to his height, his Master swept off his black hat, then pulled a comb from his pocket and smoothed back his mop of straw-coloured hair. Finally, he dusted down Holy Rome's clothes and straightened his little jabot before standing again and giving a satisfied hmph.
"There. I think you are reasonably presentable now. Now come."
With an increasing sense of puzzlement, Holy Rome followed him down the stairs and through the rooms of their vast house until they reached the kitchens. As soon as they approached the door, he could hear the frantic whisper coming from inside.
"Quick, quick, he's here! Get ready!"
A moment or two later, the door opened and Miss Hungary emerged, looking somewhat flustered. Stepping aside with Austria, she gestured Holy Rome inside the kitchens with a mischievous sort of smile.
"Go on! There's someone waiting for you inside."
Frowning, he entered the room cautiously, then came to a sudden panicked halt as he realised just who. From the other side of the room, the little voice called out to him.
"Ciao, Holy Rome."
"Italia..." he breathed.
It was her. The little maid he'd been unable to get out of his head. She was looking especially pretty today too; clothed in a slightly-too-big Hungarian dress and with a touch of make-up glistening on her face. Holy Rome felt he was rooted to the spot, and his tongue wound into a tight knot. Thankfully, she was more than willing to do the talking for him.
"Holy Rome... I was thinking, as it's nearly Christmas time, I should give you a present!"
He cleared his throat, already reddening. "Y-you don't have to..."
"Si, I know. But I want to!" she twirled happily on the spot, "Come here and I'll give it to you."
His feet felt like blocks of stubborn lead, but somehow he was able to edge step by hesitant step towards her until they were in touching distance. It was only when Italia reached out and took his clammy hand into her own that he noticed that there was something hanging above them. A clump of bright green dotted with little white flowers he didn't recognise.
Holy Rome had been watching Austria and Miss Hungary when they were together for long enough to know exactly what two people were supposed to do under mistletoe. It had always seemed easy enough... but summoning the nerve to do it himself was another matter entirely.
Distracted, he rubbed his nose with his fist. A strange tickle he'd never felt before had just ignited there, sending little waves of irritation through his sinuses. There was little time to contemplate it, however, for the next thing he knew, Italia's face was inching towards his, and the whole world melted away. The closeness of her made his body tense and his heart pound in his ears as he struggled to ready himself. This was it.
As he learned his head under the mistletoe, the tickle sharpened without warning, making his breath hitch. Panicking, he pulled away and muffled several sneezes into his sleeve.
"Holy Rome!" Italia was back by his side in an instant to support him, "Are you alright?"
Unable to speak, he attempted nodding mutely, while his face continued to burn. Italia gave a concerned little whimper and called out in desperation.
"Mr Austria! Miss Hungary! Come quickly!"
The door burst open as the adults rushed into the room. Holy Rome noticed something that looked suspiciously like a video camera in Miss Hungary's hand, which she hastened to put away when she saw him shaking and stuttering in Italia's arms.
"Ita! What happened?"
"It's Holy Rome! He went all funny when we were under the mistletoe." her voice jumped octaves while she spoke, bordering on the edge of tears, "I think he might be dying!"
Her misery was heart-rendering, and Holy Rome battled to reassure her through his agony.
"I-Italia, I'm- I'm n-n-not-" His sentence was cut short as he stifled a sneeze into his hand.
Austria's previously-concerned eyes narrowed in disgust.
"He is not dying, you fool, that it merely an allergy attack. Towards those Christmas roses, it would appear."
Holy Rome raised his head up at the mistletoe. It was strange to think that those harmless looking flowers could cause him such aggravation.
"Hooray, you're alright!"
Ecstatic, Italia squeezed him into a hug. Holy Rome's heart started hammering so hard he was surprised that it hadn't burst right through his chest. Miss Hungary squealed at the sight of them.
"Oh you two! So adorable!"
His face flared up in embarrassment, but he was spared the awkwardness of a response by as Miss Hungary knelt down to scoop him up into her arms.
"Now, let's get you away from these roses, shall we?"
She carried him over to the other side of the room, jiggling and rocking him like a mother would. At first, Holy Rome struggled to get down, painfully aware of how pathetic he must look in front of Italia, but Miss Hungary's grip was firm and determined. Not daring to look at Italia, he leaned into her body a little, sniffing wetly. He could feel his nose running and his burning eyes seeping slow, allergic tears. He tried to wipe his face on his cuff, but Austria caught his hand just in time.
"Stop that! How many times must I remind you that it is not proper to use your sleeve for such vulgarity?"
"Mr Austria..." Miss Hungary said in a reproachful voice, "Don't be mean to him."
"Mean? I am merely trying to invest some manners into my charge."
Sighing, he whipped his immaculate handkerchief from his inside coat pocket and dabbed at Holy Rome's dampened cheeks. The feeling of the soft cloth against his face was strangely therapeutic.
"Ve-" Italia tugged at Miss Hungary's skirts, gazing up at him, "Are you feeling better now, Holy Rome?"
He nodded. His eyes were still stinging, but much less painfully than before, and he no longer felt the urge to sneeze every time he drew breath. Gently, Miss Hungary lowered him to the floor, and Italia reclaimed his vacant hand.
"Let's go outside now! We can build snowmen together in the garden!"
Miss Hungary chuckled. "That sounds like a wonderful idea! How about this, whoever builds the most snooty-looking Mr Austria snowman wins an extra piece of cake tonight."
His Master puffed indignantly as he folded his handkerchief again. "Well, I hardly think that is fair! What about the most majestic-looking Mr Austria snowman? Or the most musical?"
"I think 'snooty' would be more fitting." smiling, she gave them a little push, "Go on, we'll be judging later. And remember to wrap up warm!"
"Yay! Thank you Miss Hungary."
Italia gave his hand a warm squeeze, "Come on, let's go!"
"R-right." muttered Holy Rome, trying to conceal his blushes as she lead him out of the kitchen.
"Germany? Wake up Germany!"
His eyelids fluttered open to the sound of his name, and the world rolled into focus. After the excitement of the party, there was a certain calmness about the room now, with fingers of sunlight arching through the curtains.
"Yay! Germany's finally awake!"
Italy was perched on the arm of the sofa, his knees hugged into his chest. All at once the memories from the night before came flooding back, and the blood rose to Germany's cheeks.
"Italy!" he sat up groggily, rubbing his head, "How long have I been sleeping for, exactly?"
"Hours now! Almost everyone's gone home. We thought we'd leave you to rest."
Italy slipped himself off the edge and shuffled up next to his friend.
"You were smiling a lot in your sleep. Was Germany having a nice dream?"
"Ja, I think so..."
Whatever it was… it seemed important somehow, but the details were slipping from his mind like sand. Instead, he decided to address the more pressing matter.
"About last night, I-I'm really s-"
Italy pressed a finger to his lips, silencing him.
"Shhh, it's fine. You can't help your allergies after all." he grinned, and rested his head against Germany's shoulder, "I'm just glad to see that you're alright!"
For a moment, Germany said nothing, simply enjoying the feeling of Italy's body against his. This wasn't like last night, with everyone watching, it was just the two of them alone now. A perfect opportunity.
"Italy..." he cleared his throat, a little nervous, "Th-that, um, that kiss we were going to have yesterday... we could always do it now instead. But o-only if you want to, tho-"
The rest of his sentence was drowned out as Italy latched his arms around his waist, pulling him close.
"Of course I want to, Germany. It'd be the best Christmas present ever!"
Wasting no time, he claimed his friend's lips fiercely, knocking the breath completely out of him. Germany caught himself, then began to return the gesture, deepening the kiss with his tongue.
Outside the room, Hungary's eyes gleamed as she trained the camera on the unsuspecting couple.
"Just look at them together! Oh, it's the cutest kiss I've ever seen!"
Austria made an exasperated noise in the back of his throat. His own eyes were politely averted.
"You know, I doubt that Germany would be especially pleased if he knew you were filming this."
She giggled sheepishly. "I'm sorry, but I had to get this video. A family thing, you know? We have been waiting a very long time for it, after all."
Austria couldn't help smiling.
*My first story on fanfiction net! I do love a bit of the Aus-Hun-HRE-Chibi family ;). The cover picture was drawn by the wonderful deviantart artist MidnightCatK; many thanks again for letting me use it.
Whether you enjoyed the story or not, feedback reviews would be much appreciated!*