Hi everyone! This is a piece I wrote for the Hetalia Kink Meme which I decided to de-anon. It's one of the first pieces of Hetalia I wrote and for a pairing I never really thought about. S. Italy/Canada. Yes. I hope you all enjoy it.
Summary: 5 moments in time between South Italy and Canada. Stranger things have happened...
Pairing: South Italy/Canada (Romano/Canada)
Warnings: Language, mentions of violence, violence, sexual situations, history, OOC-ness, fluff
Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia.
The first time Romano sees Canada is when the older Italian is standing on the cusp of adolescence, brushing away the lingering touches of childhood. His body is still soft, baby fat clinging to his cheeks even as his elbows and knees sharpen. He is accompanying Spain to France on a diplomatic visit. The Spaniard is jovial, looking forward to seeing his old friend though caution and distrust flicker in his emerald eyes even as he teases and coddles his young charge. Romano, never one for extreme displays of affection and terrified of visiting France, lashes out, hitting and kicking Spain more viciously than usual and curls into an angry ball in the carriage.
Spain rubs the tender blossoming bruises and frowns at the younger nation. "You're not cute at all." He sulks, crossing his arms and fixing the other with a glare. "I bet even that little savage France is enamored with is cuter than you."
And Romano, simmering with irritation and the tiniest bit of jealousy, silently vows to hate the heathen child that France has stolen away from the New World.
Until he sees the child for himself.
Canada is nothing like the people Spain described to him in his stories. His skin is not the color of sun-kissed beaches nor are his eyes the color of damp wood nor is his hair the color of coal.
Rather, his skin is the color of winter and his eyes are blue and sometimes purple and his hair falls in short waves of sunlight around his plump face with one rebellious curl bouncing down in front of his forehead.
When Romano sees Canada, a silent child with wary eyes and aloof demeanor and the slightest feral aura around him, the first word that comes to mind is…
Because he looks like a cherub plucked out of one of his younger brother's masterpieces.
But Canada barely gives him a passing glance, instead choosing to play with a strange white bear cub, ignoring the cooing nations above him and France's attempts to get him to eat. He is silent throughout dinner and remains unresponsive even when France picks him up and kisses him enthusiastically.
"Il me déteste." France complains bitterly, sipping from his wine glass, glancing over at the small blond child, the child he was starting to love. "I'm trying. Nothing works. He barely speaks. He hates me. He hates it here. He wants to go home."
"So, take him back." Spain reasons.
"…I do not want to." The older blond sulks. "I found him. He is mine."
Spain, who knows more than others about the responsibilities of having a colony and of the natives an ocean over and has been, more than once, a recipient of their hatred and disdain, leans forward seriously, neither a conquistador nor a fool, and says, "He will be yours far longer if you take him home."
And Romano does not hear France's response because he finally grabs a tomato from the bowl of ripe scarlet fruit that France had managed to provide and polishes it against his crisp vest. He takes another look at Canada, feeling pity and concern and something else he cannot identify, and then makes his way towards the smaller child, holding firmly to the plump treat in his hand. He remembers the times he was alone as a child and the first few years with Spain, feeling the painful emotions that no doubt was coursing through the new nation now. The anger of being removed from home, the loneliness isolation brings. But its awkward because thoughtful and comforting are words to describe his sweet, little brother. He's the unruly, lazy and rough one.
But Romano decided he could at least try because watching the kid is just depressing. So he drops right down next to the boy who continues to pet his bear, as though Romano had never approached him.
Oh hell no. Romano scowled. "Don't ignore me, stronzo."
Canada sets his mouth into a deep pout and resolutely ignores him.
That brat, Romano fumed. "Hey! I'm talkin' to you!" His fingers twitch and he wants to grab the brat and shake him but the kid is even younger than his brother and hasn't done anything and it feels almost sacrilegious to even try to hurt the kid.
"Leave me alone." Canada whispers, small hands curling into his bear's fur. His voice is soft, barely above a whisper, and it trembles. And Romano knows the younger boy is distressed.
"H-here." Romano mutters, ignoring the kid's plea, and holds out the tomato to him, stubbornly looking away. Canada blinked and turned to gaze at the older nation with confused strangely colored eyes. He studies the tomato quietly before sliding his gaze up to Romano. The older boy is blushing faintly, a soft scarlet dusting across his tanned cheeks, and he's avoiding the other's searching eyes.
Canada stared uncertainly at the fruit.
"It's good. Just eat it, damn it. There's no need to starve your self. France is a pervert, but he's not…that bad. He cares about you." Romano finally snapped.
"He treats me like a new possession." Canada replied, sounding far wiser than he should have been, tiny fingers tangled in the bear's fur. "He took me away from my land. And—"
"He'll take you back." Romano said firmly. "Don't argue with me and stop acting like a little shit. And take the goddamn tomato, Canada."
And Canada blinks again, this time his eyes look wet and his lower lip quivers and he just looks at Romano with something akin to something else Romano can't identify. And with a shy smile, he takes the tomato.
And Romano grumbles that it's about damn time, but awkwardly pats the child's soft hair and his lips unwillingly curve upwards anyways.
The second time he sees Canada, Romano is visiting on his way back from New York. He is checking up on his people who have immigrated in droves to the New World and he wants to see them for himself.
He knows it's difficult for them. He feels their misery and pain, experiences the backbreaking labor they suffer for in order to create a better life. He can feel the coal dust clogging his lungs, feel the heavy steel beams, and feel the judgment in the gazes of everyone else. But at the same time, he can feel their hope and strength and quiet acceptance because they are used to laboring away and the knowledge that it will all be for the best. And Romano has never been so proud of his people since today and can only clutch his rosary, close his eyes, and pray.
Canada picks him up from the boat and insists that he stay with him. The nation is older now, but still a boy, bright-eyed and optimistic. He isn't even bordering manhood even though he's far older than one realizes. Romano can see that this is no longer the toddler France whisked away decades ago who shyly accepted the tomato from Romano. And Romano is glad and grateful.
He speaks softly but cheerfully and his strange eyes flicker every so often, dark and distrustful no doubt channeling the mistrust his people have towards Italians, namely those of the South. And his voice often sounds patronizing and mocking but Romano ignores it because Canada can do nothing about his people and the boy doesn't actually share their feelings because if he did he would not have welcomed Romano into his home and land by throwing his slender arms around the older nations waist and burying his face into the other's stylish coat.
And Romano would be lying if he said he didn't enjoy the contact.
And he would be lying if he said he wasn't disgusted with himself.
And Romano knows he's blushing even as he roughly shoves Canada away and grumbles about starving and dying of thirst, and didn't that English bastard teach you any manners, damn it?
And Canada laughs sheepishly and brings Romano to his house and hesitantly accepts the bottle of wine Romano gifts him with.
"That's from my own vineyard, brat. Be grateful." Romano says scoldingly.
"B-but I can't drink wine…" Canada looks somewhat ashamed and embarrassed.
"What? You were raised by France."
"Yes, but…I don't have much of…"The boy trails off and looks at Romano pleadingly. And Romano realizes what the other is trying to say and he sighs.
"Then save it for when you're older or something. Or give it away. I don't care." Romano is now embarrassed. He turns and goes back to his room, sulking and feeling foolish. What was he thinking? Giving wine to Canada. And he stands in his room, arms crossed, scowling and doesn't even turn around when Canada peeks in and walks toward the Italian.
He says nothing and neither does the blond. But the silence is starting to get annoying so Romano snaps, "If you don't have anything to say, then get out!"
And it doesn't occur to him that its Canada's house and that he was being rude, but he does know that he's older and he's irritated.
But then Canada slips up behind him and slides his arms around his waist and rests his head between Romano's shoulder blades. Canada's body is cool against his back and a lump begins to form in Romano's throat.
"What the fuck, kid?" He asks, gruffly, mouth dry.
"I'll save the wine for the next time you visit and we'll drink it together, eh?" Romano freezes as he feels Canada's voice vibrate against his back and he's hit by a striking sense of wrongness. That he shouldn't notice these things about the other nation. That he shouldn't notice anything about the nation, not his pale skin or pretty eyes or gentle manner. That he shouldn't think of Canada as some angel because he's not and…and…
Romano tears himself out of Canada's hold and whirls around to glare at the boy, hazel eyes flashing and he's about to launch into a blistering, rage filled monologue when he notices that Canada looks confused and hurt and so much like his younger brother when Romano pushes him away. And its obvious that his intentions were pure and he's not sure why the older nation is so upset.
"I-I'm sorry, Romano. You must be tired and I'm just bothering you." Canada blushes faintly. The younger nation continues to apologize as he makes his way back to the door and then exits and shuts the door softly and Romano feels his bizarre anger die down and in its ashes rise guilt.
That night Romano recites Ave Maria three times, kneeling at the foot of his bed, his rosary tangled in his tanned fingers, eyes shut tightly.
And when the guilt continues to sit in the pit of his stomach, he recites three more.
But when dawn comes, stretching pale pink light across the sky and into the room, Latin continues to tumble out of his lips.
"…ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae..."
But he can't forget Canada (that stupid, annoyingly sincere and sweet kid) that's managed to wiggle his way into Romano's life in such a short time.
And even as the words fall faster and with more fury, he can't forget those eyes.
The third time Romano sees Canada is in Versailles. The Great War is over.
And so, so many have died.
So many Italians died and Romano's heart still aches even though Caporetto has long passed. He and his brother have both had sleepless nights filled with stinging eyes and nightmares when they wake up, screaming into the night, trembling from aftershocks of explosions and the searing pain of artillery.
But it was all for this moment. The moment where they would receive their reward.
Or so Veneziano had said.
The idiot had signed a treaty with England secretly, not even telling his elder brother about his decision. Romano didn't find out until the morning they left for France.
"You did what?!" Romano had screamed, standing in their shared villa. "Fine, you didn't want to honor the alliance, but you could've stayed neutral, stronzo! Bastardo!" And he had continued to hurl obscenity after obscenity at the younger man until Veneziano had grabbed him by the shoulders and looked up at him with wide pleading eyes.
"But, fratello, he said he'd give us Tyrol, Dalmatia and Istria." The Italian had gripped Romano harder here. "Don't you understand? It was for us, for our people! And besides, Austria and Germany and Hungary lost."
And Romano was shocked by the coldness in his brother's voice and stunned by just how similar the normally happy-go-lucky boy was to their long-gone grandfather.
"We could've stayed neutral. No one needed to die." He spat out, still taken aback.
"And what would we have gotten then?" Veneziano said coldly.
And though Romano knew it wasn't really his little brother (because it was their boss and government and public who made them), he felt betrayed.
"We paid a horrid price." Romano had said, sadly, tearing away from his younger brother. "Don't get your hopes up."
And Romano had gone into the meeting expecting nothing.
And he was glad he did.
England and France and America had strode in, worn and weary but confident and Romano knew instantly who the true victors were.
And, even though he was on the winning side, he knew he'd be another loser by the end of the meeting.
And he was angry, damn it. He felt weak and ashamed and disgusted with the quiet optimism on his brother's face. And he hated his brother, his boss, and himself.
And in his haze of self-hatred and disgust, he caught a glimpse of gold from the corner of his eye.
Romano felt his breath catch. The boy was no longer a boy, but a man.
Younger than some of the men he watched die while wasting away in Caporetto.
He was wearing glasses, that looked too new, and his normally expressive eyes were painfully blank behind his spectacles. His face was pallid and he was standing quietly behind England. He looked like the softest breeze could push him over.
And Romano could see the fading ugly bruises on his face, the clean bandages peeking out from above his collar, and he was favoring his right side.
And Romano wanted to cry because he had hoped that the kid had been spared, that he had been in the medic tent not the trenches. That when one of his commanders had mentioned the fighting prowess of the Canadians, his Canada was not one of the ones wasting away in the mud, not the one stealing back territory from Germany, not the one charging and fighting and dying day after day after day in a war created by the old nations that he had no need to enter, not the one aiming the gun and leaping over brush and fallen comrades.
Not the one who was so terrifying that caused Germany to flinch when he limped into the room.
But it was his Canada.
And Romano knew just by looking at him, that this was the devil, the bogeyman, the soldier who carved a place for his self in history and the battlefield. This wasn't the boy who had lived in his dreams for so many years.
But even as England and France and America wrote and rewrote history and the future, Canada stood still and Romano never hated England so much as he did that moment.
When the meeting ended, and Romano's suspicions were painfully proven and Veneziano had a weak smile on his face and humiliation and anger in his normally gentle eyes as he exited the room silently. But Romano stayed, watching the other nations, watching Canada.
But the boy did not follow England and France and America (even though England proudly slapped his back, smiling, and France kissed his cheeks, and America pulled him into a hug) choosing instead to slip into one of the seats as the other nations filed out until it was just he and Romano.
The nation did not respond, continuing rather to hold his pale face in trembling hands, expression obscured by messily cut blond locks.
"Don't ignore me." Romano's voice shook in anger and his hazel eyes bore holes into the younger nation.
"J-just leave me alone."
"Stop being so damn difficult and speak to me!" And Canada flinched minutely.
"I-I should be glad. For once, Quebec is quiet. Canadians are proud to be Canadian. People acknowledge us. They respect us. I…we proved ourselves." Canada's voice shook and Romano could hear the tears. "B-but…I hope I never have to do that again."
Romano could only stand there as the younger nation began to cry, shoulders shaking as he hunched over further.
"S-so many died…I-I've never…How do you deal with it?"
"You learn." Romano murmured, not moving. "You learn, you fool. Now stop crying. You're not the only one suffering."
Canada's sobs quieted down. "I-I'm sorry."
"B-but I am." The blond whispered. "You two didn't get anything, did you? That's not fair."
"It's hardly ever fair." Romano scowled, feeling familiar rage uncoil in his stomach. Just what was this kid?
"I-I could talk to England?"
"Don't. It won't make any difference and you know it." And Romano wondered if he was being too harsh when Canada began to shake again.
"You're a good kid. Naïve and a little stupid. And a crybaby, but good." Romano said suddenly, moving over to Canada and pulling out his chair, kneeling down in front of the crying nation. "You can be a little shit too. But, don't change, got it brat?"
Canada looked at him with confused and red eyes and Romano pulled out a handkerchief and, blushingly and a little harshly, began to dry the nation's face, dabbing at the tears that continued to fall. "You're just fine the way you are. Don't ever be like them. Or else I'll kick your ass."
Canada, still looking extremely confused, nodded jerkily and Romano smirked.
"Now stop crying or else." Romano said gruffly, starting to stand.
And it was like the spring sun had risen and the icy tundra was aglow with warmth and Romano didn't think that there were many things more beautiful than Canada's smile.
Hazel eyes flickered over watery blue-violet ones and reddish cheeks and pale smiling lips.
And Romano knew, looking at Canada's sincere face, that no amount of prayer was going to save his soul so, with shame and hesitance and other emotions that he had no desire to name gnawing at his ribs, he slowly leaned in, watching with a shimmer of pleasure as Canada's lovely eyes slowly widened with realization and a burst of relief as the other nation slowly leaned closer and—
"Cazzo." Romano snarled, looking down, before pulling away from Canada and turning to glare at whoever interrupted…
Only to blanche when he saw it was America.
The other blond nation stood still in the doorway, watching the pair with a cold smile on his lips. Bright light glared off his glasses making his eyes unreadable, but Romano had a pretty good idea that they were pissed.
"England's been looking for you." America said, voice frighteningly level. "Better go find him before he has another fit."
Canada didn't stop looking at his twin even when he stood up and lightly pushed Romano's shoulder.
So Romano did, shivers wracking down his spine as he passed America, who merely watched him leave while clenching his hands into fists. And Romano was fairly certain, that had Canada not been near, America would've already shoved him back against the wall, fingers wrapped around his throat, with an intent to kill because, even now, Romano can feel the disdain radiating from the fledgling superpower.
And as Romano walked down the hallway, he could hear the American's brash voice berating the other nation.
"He's a criminal!"
"I'm not the only one." Romano growled.
The fourth time Romano sees Canada is when Sicily has fallen. He's been captured by America and England, who crawled out of the sea and dropped out of the air and charged across his home, and brought back to their camp, trussed up like an animal, and thrown into one of the nation's personal tents. He is shaking and coughing up blood, trying not to writhe too obviously in pain because those bastards would just enjoy it. Because the bastards are drunk off their victory because they know with the fall of Sicily, Southern Italy is at their fingertips and the rest of the land will be for their taking, and their troops are celebrating after more than two months of fighting.
And Romano can feel the bruises under his tattered uniform and he silently weeps for Italians that died, that he saw die, that he felt die and he wonders why they always lose, even when they win they lose. And he can feel the people turning against their leader and he knows that that bastard probably won't be in charge for long and it's a shame because he made the trains run on time and Veneziano had such high hopes for him.
But for Romano, it's all the same. And he can only suffer in silence and pray that the rest of Italy will fall without too much bloodshed and that Veneziano is all right and doesn't do anything stupid.
But then again, Veneziano is irrevocably changed. His demeanor is as light as ever but Romano can see the glimmer of darkness in his eyes and it scares him until his brother's jester's façade becomes too much to ignore and he gratefully forgets about the gleam.
But he pulls himself together when America saunters in, followed by England and glares acidly at the two, not even wincing when his lip slits open again because he can't feel anything with the burning rage rising in his stomach and heating his words.
"Biscari." He hisses hazel eyes dark with hate. "You sick fuck."
And America just smiles and doesn't stop even when he slugs Romano across the face, a fresh bruise blossoming bellow his eye.
"America." England warns, half-heartedly, still to pleased and weary to be truly upset.
"I'm not the one who takes advantage of kids." America snarls, eyes stormy behind his spectacles.
"Canada is hardly a kid." Romano snaps back.
And then he realizes he's made a mistake when England freezes and asks, "Canada?" and he turns to look at the sandy-haired man whose eyes are cold as emeralds and looks ever bit the conquering, iron-fisted empire he is and Romano hates to admit he's shaking.
And England takes a deliberate step forward and Romano shuts his eyes when he hears the gentle rustle of the tent and a new voice interrupts.
"England? America?" Canada asks, uncertainly. Blue-violet eyes flicking nervously between his brother and father and then at Romano.
And Romano almost cries in relief when he sees that Canada is Canada. Bruised and tired and slightly ill looking in the Mediterranean air, but still Canada.
"Canada. Leave." England says imperiously. Canada licks his lips and glances at Romano and Romano is silently pleading for Canada to just leave because he doesn't need to see what happens next.
"W-what are you going to do?" Canada asks casually.
"It's none of your concern, boy. Now leave." England barks, prominent eyebrows quivering in irritation.
"Don't hurt him anymore, please." Canada pleads, still utterly childlike and naïve even though he charged through Sicily determined to prove his worth again and again.
And now England is shaking in rage and has turned on Canada. "Mind your place!"
And Romano is terrified that England is going to strike Canada and is thinking how much of a fool Canada is and doesn't he know how the rules go? He isn't supposed to show concern for the enemy nation especially when that nation is the one killing your men even. No exceptions.
But then America steps in, placing himself protectively in front of his little brother like Romano should be doing for Veneziano who is all by himself further inland (having been sent there by Germany), and glares at England before grabbing Canada by the shoulder and leading him out.
And Romano is left with England.
And England just makes his way to Romano and grips the nation's chin with a calloused and harsh hand.
"After we take you, we're taking Italy."
And Romano, wishing that he had actually run away earlier despite knowing it was futile, just glares and lets resignation wash over his bruised body, "Vaffanculo."
And that night, when Romano is tied up again to the chair and staring blankly at the canvas ceiling, Canada returns with a bowl of water and a rag. And he starts to silently press the damp cloth gently against Romano's bruised face with a steady hand, kneeling in front of the other.
"Don't bother." Romano murmurs hoarsely. "You idiot."
Canada tosses the rag back in the water harshly and he grips the older nation's knees and rests his head on Romano's thighs.
"Tell me you weren't for this."
"I'm a simple man. My people are simple. Wars are not for us." Romano whispers. "But the boss is very persuasive and the people are bitter. Can you blame us? Me?"
"I can and I do."
And those words sting more than anything England could do.
"But I can't and I don't at the same time. Nothing is black and white."
And the blond looks up then, face obscured by the night. "I remember you from before. It's not so easy to hate you."
And it pains and fills Romano with pride to see how much that little heathen that he met so long ago has matured.
Then Canada is moving quickly, fingers deftly undoing the knots keeping Romano captive and then he stands. "We haven't captured all of Italy yet. But we will and only that day will it be fair."
Romano does not move. "Fool. I told you nothing is ever fair." But he grins wryly, "Now tie me back up. England will send me to Veneziano in the morning so when he takes the rest of Italy he can rejoice in capturing us both at once. But if he finds out you untied me, he'll punish you."
But Canada just stands there stubbornly and Romano sighs, grasping the other's worn uniform and tugs down the younger nation until he is sprawled in Romano's lap. And, wincing all the while, Romano holds Canada's soft face in his hands and leans forward, capturing the other's chapped lips in a kiss.
And Canada does not make a single noise but Romano can feel heat rising in the other's face and it makes him grin. "You haven't changed."
"I don't want you to kick my ass." The other whispers and Romano can feel his breath against his lips before Canada leans in again to place a soft kiss on his lips before getting off his lap and picking up the ropes again.
"I don't like this." Canada muttered.
"Neither do I." Romano grouched, trying to get back to that he was supposed to act like despite the pleasure unfurling in his stomach. "Now get on with it."
Several years pass before Romano and Canada see each other again. Reconstruction is necessary and Romano's time is consumed by paperwork and aiding his people. When they do see each other, it is at a world meeting. Romano can see the blond nation sitting quietly down the table, taking notes, and listening intently. Each time, Canada is able to sense Romano's gaze and he turns to smile sweetly and blushingly at the dark-haired nation and Romano averts his eyes and tries to stop grinning stupidly.
It amazes him how easily the younger nation has been forgotten by the rest of the world including the father who once sent him to war. It pisses Romano off and whenever the Canadian gets up to speak at a meeting and some bastard says, "Who are you?" and stares confusedly at the blushing nation who begins to stammer, "I-I'm—"
"That's Canada you goddamn moron." Romano snaps, glaring in disgust at whichever nation had asked until the other nation is shamed into silence. And its worth it because Canada then turns grateful eyes towards him and he's pretty sure even America throws him a grudgingly approving glance.
Sometimes, if work is not pressing, Romano will fly to Ottawa for Canada's birthday bringing gifts of olive oil, wine, Versace, and Armani. It's always a quiet affair. France, who can see the unreadable, yet heated glances Romano throws Canada over wine and hear the gentleness underneath the gruff insults that rarely carry heat and feel the tension whenever Canada gets too close to Romano, stops molesting Romano as soon as he enters a room (though he still molests Canada from time to time because a flustered Canada is beautiful and a red-faced, cursing Romano is entertaining). And England (when he remembers) is quietly accepting, only once cornering Romano in the hallway.
"I know." England had said with wintery eyes. "And if you hurt him, I'll make what happened to the Spanish Armada and both World Wars look like tea time."
And Romano had just calmly met England's gaze (his knees were not shaking, damn it!) and nodded curtly.
America, who somehow always made time to show up at Canada's house with a gift, always glares at him and whispers "Atomic bomb" and then "Hydrogen bomb" whenever he thinks Canada can't hear him (when in reality, everyone can hear him) and never fails to interrupt the two nations whenever they somehow manage to be alone.
And so the years pass as such. Romano continues his quiet courtship of the younger nation. When he hears of the tumultuous political scene of Canada and the ruckus in Quebec, he orders bouquets of roses and lilies and has them delivered to the frantic nation.
Spain, who catches him wrapping an expensive scarf, asks him, in a strange voice Romano has never once heard, "Who is it?"
"None of your business!" Romano had snapped, blushing vividly.
"You look just like a tomato." Spain had said then, voice lacking the same cheer it had in the past.
And Lovino looks at Spain for the first time and sees the shadows in the other's emerald gaze and the false smile and then he knows.
And he's ashamed. All these years…
"Spain." He begins, swallowing dryly. "I-I'm…"
And its still so difficult to apologize but Spain, for once, knows what he wants to say and what he means and just moves to pull a half-heartedly resisting Romano into a tight hug.
"You've always been entranced by that child." Spain murmurs. "I knew from the moment you saw him. You never shared your tomatoes with me." Spain grins against Romano's hair and then pulls away, kissing him on the cheek. "May you have all the happiness in the world."
"D-Don't speak as though we're getting married!" Romano scowls and Spain grins cheerily.
"But weddings are so nice! And France has been wanting to put Canada in a dress for while now."
And Romano punches Spain who continues to laugh and tease and he's relieved because it could've been so much more difficult. Then Veneziano bounces in, attracted by the sound of cursing and laughter and the word wedding, and asks, "Vee~ Who's getting married?"
"Romano and Canada~"
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" Romano shouts, red-faced, and shakes Spain. Neither nation notices the frozen expression on the shorter Italian's face until they realize that Veneziano is too quiet.
And it's sobering because both nations remember why. And Romano knows what his brother is thinking because he's been going through the same conflict since that visit and no matter how many times he loses himself in the grand old churches of his home, no matter how many times he grips his rosary and murmurs Latin under the benevolent smile of the Madonna, no matter how many times he confesses, it doesn't change anything.
But Veneziano just grins happily and pounces on his brother, wrapping thin arms around the slightly taller man and congratulates him and asks if Canada likes pasta because if so they should have him over for dinner and he'll make a full course meal and they'll need the proper wines and Veneziano continues to ramble on before Romano tells him to be quiet but he's not really angry and Veneziano knows this.
And that night, Spain calls up Canada and cheerfully tells that he'd better not hurt Romano or else, going into full detail with shocking calmness and glee as to what 'else' entails.
And Canada has nightmares of Spain and his battleaxe for the rest of the week.
It's a strange courtship the two have, based on a few meetings and words and a lot of nonverbal communication. And slowly nations who are close to the two begin to pick up on it and aren't so surprised (because stranger things have happened). Holland and Ukraine often ask Canada what he sees in the sour, unfriendly Italian. And Cuba tries his best to convince Canada that anyone who was raised by Spain must be a complete bastard and that Canada should end the relationship immediately. But then Canada casually says that America told him the same thing and Cuba backpedals and says as long as Canada is happy, it's alright.
And Hungary seems to be stalking them.
Prussia seems to be the only one to get it and tries to drunkenly explain it to Spain and France during on of their monthly get-togethers. He gets as far as "They like each other just because. And they just do. And I'd like to see them fuck" before Spain pulls the ex-nation in for a kiss and France presses himself against Prussia's back because neither European nation wants to think about their once charges having sex.
Then the trio is kicked out of the bar.
Then L'Aquila happens.
And he is digging people out of rubble and rushing to meet his Boss and helping the homeless, ignoring the blossoming bruise on his abdomen and hip and the tremors that wrack his body and land and the pain of the quake and the deaths. There's no time to cry, so tears stream down his face as he runs past shattered buildings, digs through the rubble of history, and gives aid until he collapses from exhaustion.
And offers of aid pour in, but Romano and Veneziano are proud. But they know they need it. So when Canada calls and says that they will be building a youth centre for the university, Romano thanks him and says, "I'm coming over soon."
"I'll wait." Canada whispers back and Romano can hear the smile in the other's voice.
So when months pass and the situation improves, Veneziano grabs his brother and says, "Go, fratello, these are my people too. I'll take care of them" because he can see the shadows in his elder brother's eyes and that the other is making himself sick and he thinks its time he helped his brother too.
So Veneziano sends Romano to Canada. And Canada takes the dark-haired man home and shows him around Canada. They drive up to the mountains (Romano bundled up in layer after layer and grumpy) and Canada shows Romano his land and people. And they return to Ottawa and Romano meets with Canada's boss.
And at night they sleep together, entwined in sheets, facing each other. They talk and finally they become more than what they were and Canada takes Romano's hand in his and curls up against him and Romano blushes bright red and Canada grins but doesn't say that he looks like a tomato but starts laughing when Romano shoves him out of (his) bed for doing so.
One night, Canada asks why him and Romano responds with "Why not? Now shut up. I'm trying to sleep." But Canada only scoots closer until Romano can see the other nation in the moonlight that streams through the window.
"You were honest." Canada whispers. "And you looked out for me."
And Romano wants to tell the other about how much he's thought of Canada over the years and how many times he's dreamed of him and how he's somehow made a place for himself in Romano's world.
Instead he says, "You're still such a pain in the ass." But he smiles and wraps his arm around the other and leans close and Canada welcomes his lips because he knows what Romano means.
The night before Romano leaves, Romano cooks each one of his specialties, trying to explain himself through his food, speaking through courses rather than using words. And at the end, he's about to open a final bottle of wine, when Canada stops him and exits the room, returning again with a dusty bottle.
"The wine you gave me." The blond nation says shyly. "I wanted to drink it with you."
And the hazel-eyed nation just takes the offered glass and the two nations drink together, the air heady with unspoken confessions and history.
And that night, driven by lust and alcohol and other emotions they won't name, Romano loses himself again in those blue-purple eyes as the two nations come together under the silvery moonlight as one, finally, after years and years of moments.
And they don't care what others think or say about their relationship.
They have no regrets.
Translations (according to the Internet):
Angelo = Angel
Il me deteste = He hates me.
Bastardo = bastard
Cazzo = fuck
Stronzo = piece of shit
Vaffanculo = fuck off
Fratello = brother
And those are the notes that I've remembered. Sorry for any incorrect or off information. It was rushed research and some Wikipedia:
1. Many Italian immigrants did move to Canada, but weren't treated very well. There was a negative stereotype of them and weren't viewed as desirable. They often worked as laborers or miners or on the railroad.
2. The religious tones are because the Vatican is in Italy. Ave Maria, Hail Mary, is a Catholic prayer asking for the intercession of Mary. I chose it because I figured it was safe to go with it. The part Romano says is the ending and it translates to "…pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death…"
3. Italy did make a secret treaty with England and was promised those regions. Caporetto was a major battle in which the Italian faced all of the Austrian army and German troops. Many Italians died and it was horrid psychological wound along with a lost battle. According to my research, Italy didn't get anything at Versailles because the major powers (England, France, and America) took the most. Italy was humiliated and blamed their government that they saw as weak and to blame for their woes. Mussolini rose to power after this time. Canadian troops were shock troops and kicked major ass against the Germans but I believe lost the most men.
4. Mussolini was supported I believe and I watched a documentary where he improved the transportation of the country. But later people began to turn on him. Biscari was the sight where American troops killed over 70 Italian and some German POWs at two different times. The invasion of Sicily by Canadian, American, and British troops was three-tiered, air and naval and land. Once Sicily fell, it was relatively easy to take the rest of Italy because the Allies then went north.
5. Olive oil and wine are Italian specialties. Gianni Versace, who founded the brand, was born in Southern Italy. Armani is another Italian fashion label. There was also a great fear of Quebec seceding and it all bubbled over in the 70s and the rose and lily are England and France's national flowers, respectively.
6. L'Aquila was the sight of a major earthquake just this past spring. Many people died, the most in decades. Apparently Canada did say it would build a $5 million student's center in the town (which is a college town).
7. Italy and Canada do have pretty good relations.