Italy combs his fingers through the hair at the base of his neck, nails skittering across skin. He feels...a bit distracted lately, moved to do something. Germany only glimpses over once (or twice), to see if Italy's alright. The air is warm through Venice, and music thrums through the air.

Almost like before, in those glorious years where artists came to him for inspiration and training.

Italy remembers Puccini, scribbling like mad to finish La Boheme, puffing away on a Tuscan cigar. How he marveled at how easily the characters interacted--like conversing in song. Puccini, who was careless.

Italy remembers crying the first time he saw Mimi fall lifeless and Rodolfo cry out. Germany was close (though this was before they had truly begun any sort of friendship), but made no move when Italy had to excuse himself from the hall.

He remembers how he watched America react to Madama Butterfly (all amazement and anger at Pinkerton), and how later, Japan merely observed the spectacle and left without a word.

When Australia comes chattering though, with one of his movies in hand, he is eager to show it to Italy. As they watch the world spin through kaledioscope (and a multitude of pop songs so strangely anachronistic to the setting), Italy realizes why Australia wanted to show him this in the first place--it's Verdi's "La Traviata".

Well...sort of.

The more time he spends with Germany, the more he wants to learn about him. But Germany is short, terse answers and very unwanting to share his past. He knows his music though--wonderful composers who, though not wholly his (Austria reached so far in those days), made him alive.

They don't speak about Wagner within earshot of England. Der Ring des Nibelungen, Germany says, was heavily borrowed from for 'Lord of the Rings'.

Italy has the patience to read the books, but not to sit through a weekend of Wagner. He does not ever tell Germany this, out of kindness. (Besides, Wagner's poltics leaned far too much toward nazism for Italy's liking. Not that Italy didn't have his failings, but when his leaders attempted fascism...well, it hadn't faired well)

Germany takes Italy to the opera once--for Tristan und Isolde. Hands wrapped around Germany's arm, he is captivated by the newness of the music, the love story. When Tristan dies, Italy weeps, and cannot be consoled when Isolde joins her love in death. The arts always affect him this way--perhaps this is something from Grandpa Rome.

If so, he cherishes it with every breath.

Italy likes to sum things up with music. It is always so much better than words, and lingers so much longer. He recalls his hazy formative years, when Hungary would sing to him, and he would paint. Sometimes he would sing along. Austria marveled at his musical knowledge.

When Germany proposes, Italy recalls a thousand love songs from eons past--and finds that some are thrumming through his mind in German. The shock slips from his face and a smile fills the void.

"Of course."

Music lives forever--perhaps that is why Italy likes it. He is not known for great writers. He is known for the beauty of a universal language that will never cease to amaze him.

Later that night, Italy nuzzles against Germany's neck, contented. Rough, worn hands rest on his chest, burning. Italy places a hand over Germany's, and sings softly. His eyes are closed.
Che gelida manina, se la lasci riscaldar...
Cercar che giova? Al buio non si trova.
Ma per fortuna, รจ una notte di luna,
e qui la luna... l'abbiamo vicina."

Germany's expression is puzzled when Italy turns his head. Italy smiles softly, and shifts himself so that he is facing Germany. He plants a kiss softly on Germany's lips, and sighs.

"Addio dolce svegliare alla mattina!"

Germany asks no more questions.

-Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring Cycles) take nearly a full weekend to perform. Also, Wagner was a brillaint composer but kind of a horrible human being. The Nazi party didn't use his music just because they liked it--Wagner was a notorious anti-semtite and just an all around terrible guy who probably would have been part of the Nazi party, had he been around.

-facism and Italy: though Mussolini tried to impose facisim on Italy (mostly done under duress near the end of the war), the war took its toll and the people got pissed. Mussolini and his mistress (and most of their entourage) were shot and killed. Mussolini and his mistress's bodies were later hung upside down on meathooks outside a gas station so that they could be stoned.

--Moulin Rouge (the Baz Lurhman movie) was based very very loosely on La Traviata, a Verdi opera. As in, so loosely I'm pretty sure there's no Verdi in there. But I still like it.

--for the curious, that's "Che Gelida Manina (What A Cold Little Hand)!" from La Boheme. Translation of lyrics:

How cold your little hand is! will you let me warm it for you?
Why bother looking? its dark, and we wont find it.
Its our good luck, though, this nights filled with moonlight,
Up here the moonlight could rest on our shoulders.

--again, another song from La Boheme. Addio dolce svegliare alla mattina! is actually a quartet, but I felt the phrase itself was a nice note to end the fic on. In English, it's Goodbye, Sweet Awakening in The Morning. For two of the characters (Rodolfo and Mimi), it's a reconciliation, for the other two (Marcello and Musetta) it's a fight. Obviously, I'm thinking of the reconcilation for ItalyxGermany.

Oh, and if the plot/characters of La Boheme sound familiar, you might know it better as RENT--which was based on/adapted from La Boheme. Much as I enjoy Larson's musical--La Boheme is better, in my opinion. I actually like Mimi in La Boheme, whereas in so much