Challenge: CHB: Capture the Flag Tournament

Round: One - The Oracle of Delphi

Cabin and Team: Apollo - Team Blue

Prompt: The Moon (Confusion, fear, misinterpretation)

Bonus Prompts: [word] Meaning, [trait] Strength (physical or emotional)

Summary: She didn't want to be a housewife, a mother subservient to men for all of her life. But if she didn't want her or her family - all of them undesirables in society who would probably have been taken away if it weren't for Nonno's influence - to get hurt, she would have to play her part for the time being.

Word Count: 1001


CW: Discussions of sexism/traditional gender roles, totalitarianism, bullying, prejudice and propaganda. But what else do you expect? You asked me to write about life in fascist Italy of all settings, moderators, so I provided! Also, irony.

Her name was Bianca di Angelo, daughter of Maria di Angelo and a father who she did not know the name of, older sister by about two years of Niccolò "Nico" di Angelo. She lived in Venice with her family, including her grandfather, who was an international diplomat to the United States of America, who moved from the south as a child as his parents migrated north to find work.

But despite her "highborn" status, her existence was a controversy, a subject of gossip and taunting from schoolyard bullies, who mocked them for being bastard children and claimed that they would all end up in the furthest depths of Hell. They insulted them for their southern bloodline and her tendency to space out in the middle of the class and the words practically floating off the page, the letters jumbling to form some kind of puzzle that her brain just couldn't solve as quickly as the rest of the class. "Her great-grandparents' illiteracy must have been passed down to them," they mocked. "She's just as stupid as her hick ancestors."

Her heart halted every day before she stepped foot on the school campus. Why would she want herself to face the bitter, self-righteous remarks, of how she should belong in the nursery or the kitchen once she was older, like the meaning of a female life laid in her ability to procreate? She didn't want to be subjected to swats to the head and shouting just because it took her longer to read than most of the class, for spelling words wrongly half the time, for something she knew she would not be able to control. But every day, she had to muster all her strength to shoulder on and walk through the gates and doors, one day, she promised herself, one day.

Much unlike her, her mother was as fearless as she was beautiful. She told them not to believe everything they taught in school - that women could bring honour in ways other than motherhood, that manhood was not defined by war and murder, that Il Duce was not always correct and some of his tales were lies. She walked through crowds of people gossipping about her, condemning her for not bearing more children for the homeland, for birthing two children out of wedlock, for running her mouth and speaking her mind whenever her diplomatic father was not present, without a single hint of hesitation. She once even saw her pull her laurel wreath hairpin out of her hairdo in the middle of the street and stab a large, cow-like creature to death with it, the accessory somehow transformed into a leaf-shaped dagger made of gold (which somehow wasn't confiscated in the Gold for the Fatherland initiative).

Her brother was lively and excitable, but she was a sister older and wiser, and knew that there was something different about her brother which would probably have him called out as a deviant and eventually sent to re-education. She told him not so say anything about the difference - she didn't want to lose her lovable little fradelo to goodness-knows-where-and-what. He also tired easily, able to run around for short periods of time, but often drooping down like a dehydrated plant after his brief spurts of energy - "be strong and enduring," they said. "There is no room for weakness," they said. Goodness, these monsters are going to eat him alive...

They already learnt drastically different things. He was taught to live and die for a cause that was ultimately going to turn against him. She was taught to be docile and to be a good mother, but she knew she definitely wouldn't be one - she was too brash, too pushy, even beneath her shy, unassuming exterior.

She didn't want to be a housewife, a mother subservient to men for all of her life. But if she didn't want her or her family - all of them undesirables in society who would probably have been taken away if it weren't for Nonno's influence - to get hurt, she would have to play her part for the time being.

But ultimately, as she put up the facade of the good fascist girl (or as good as she could, anyway, why would they want a barely literate girl in their society?), trying to stay demure while her heart was screaming, she wondered, who was Bianca di Angelo? For now, it was but a name, but she has to keep up the mask at all times, to cover up the tracks of her mother's rebellion and her brother having some trait which would have him taken from them in the end. Who am I? What do I want? What is the meaning of my life? Will I ever get the chance to chase a new direction in life, to choose my own fate and destiny?

Several decades later, even when the memories of suffocating, soul-crushing oppression were no more than an inkling at the back of her mind, Bianca chose to escape her past of questioning her identity and place in life and join the Hunt. The military school gave her deja vu, as she swore she had lived a strict life like it… maybe before my memories were wiped? Once, during a thunderstorm, she ignored her racing heart and sweaty palms to check on her brother, her brain somehow managing to link the lightning strike with danger. He was all right, though definitely very shaken and panicking under the desk, though neither of them knew why both of them reacted so badly and why the taunts from their dorm mates caused the shadows around them to stir and trip the bullies over.

Perhaps had she noticed that womankind was no longer restrained so much as when she was a child, she would not have left her brother to face the world alone, leaving to pursue freedom alone before she knew her brother would be in safe hands. But that is a story for another time and another universe.

A/N: This fanfic took me days to research because fascism is kind of a big turn-off for me, and having to read into it disgusts me - not the fact I have to look it up, but how they dealt with things historically. But like Bianca, I guess I also had to soldier on.

There was, and still is, a great cultural divide between the Italian South and North. Some are prejudiced against people from the other side of the country (northerners are stereotyped to be pretentious and elitist snobs, while southerners are stereotyped to be uneducated, farming hicks), though I'm not sure what both sides think about Central Italy, i.e. where Rome lies. The divide is so great because of their respective backgrounds - the North has Germanic and French influence, while the South has Spanish and Arabic influence, to the point that in Hetalia (a webcomic/manga/anime series about anthropomorphized nations, Italy is divided between two Personifications. Some fandom members believe that the di Angelo family has southern origins, or make an AU altogether where they are southern, because of the origin of the family name and other etymology-related aspects, which I, as a name etymology-loving Hetalian, greatly appreciate and am willing to work with.

The weapon Maria wielded is an imperial gold pugio, a Roman dagger. Its disguise as a pin shaped like a laurel wreath is because it is a symbol of Victoria, Roman goddess of victory in battle - I headcanon the family to be legacies of her. It's definitely not my idea though, once again, I have only Tumblr to thank. Meanwhile, "Gold for the Fatherland" refers to "the donation of wedding rings and other forms of gold by Italian citizens in exchange for steel wristbands bearing the words 'Gold for the Fatherland'", where the collected gold was then used to fund the war effort. I'm not sure when this takes place, but since it is mentioned in the section about belief of superiority over Ethiopia (then called Abyssinia) and the invasion, it can be assumed this initiative took place around 1935 (the year the invasion took place) or 1936.

Fascism was seen not a party but a way of life, which is why Bianca had to keep up her mask at nearly all times; and non-fascist political parties are banned, as per the rules of totalitarianism, which means that even if people living in that era were to disagree with the fascist regime, they would probably be prosecuted.

I personally believe that the siblings are astraphobic (i.e. fearing thunderstorms, especially the lightning aspect of them), but this is more of a traumatic trigger than anything else. The problem is that no one knows it is based in trauma and since fear of storms is often considered a "childish" fear… man, ignorance really isn't bliss, is it?

I tried my best not to include anything to do with religion for this fic, mainly because there's still Catholic-Jewish discourse for this particular family - no actual arguments, but I'm inclined to support both headcanons. If you go with the Jewish headcanon, which I personally lean towards in this particular moment as of writing this, the family would flee in 1938 when antisemitism was adopted in Italy to the US.

I also know that it is kind of difficult to stick to the theme I was given, but I do hope this will suffice for the contest. After all, I have had assessments for school literally every other day for the past week, and have to put a lot of time into studying since my finals are set to take place in a couple of weeks. That's it for now, and I hope you enjoyed this. See you later, I suppose, and to the moderators reading this: depending on when the next round takes place, I might have to ask for an extension. Just a warning in advance. Thanks for understanding.