SOY: so this is the last chapter! It has been a long journey up to this point, but I'm really happy about how it turned out. Thank you, everybody! I hope this won't seem too bad to you!

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Rating: K+.

Warnings: mostly fluffiness, some hints at GerIta, some crack.

Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia.

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Magic Trick

Chapter 09

Standing in front of Germany, his little arms stretched wide, little Italy glared up at England, eyes blazing in fury.

"I won't let you hurt Mr. Germany!" he yelled out, puffing his cheeks in determination.

Germany looked down in shock. "I–Italy?"

The Nations in the room stopped their bitching and turned in surprise towards the shrunken Italy, surprised at his outburst.

Even Japan, who had been observing everything from his spot close to the door, ready to intervene if anything went wrong, momentarily shifted his attention to little Italy (inwardly stomping down on his desire to point and mutter 'moe' over and over again).

The ones who were least expecting Italy to stand up for Germany were, for obvious reasons, Germany himself and America; the latter had stepped up to the place of protective older (heroic) brother, and seeing his future little brother–colony–sidekick stand up to protect the enemy really put him off.

"Italy, move aside and let the hero do his job!"

Looking up with defiance, Italy shook his head.

"I won't let you hurt him, brother America! If you are a hero for real, then you can't hurt people!"

America scratched his chin, hesitating for a split moment. "But Ita, he's the enemy here… he came here to kidnap you…"

"D–don't fight over me… p–please…" big brown eyes suddenly filled with tears, and both America and England backed away from the little kid, feeling suddenly guilty.

"Ita…" America pouted, not sure about what to say, and England looked to the side, biting his lower lip.

"I… I want to… go back with him, v–ve~" Italy shyly peered up at Germany, who was still looking utterly confused, and flushed crimson, his little heart racing in his chest.

The more he stared up at the Nation called Germany, the more he could point out the small details that made him resemble more and more his Holy Roman Empire, and… and…

"I'd like to go back with him and Austria and Hungary and Mr. Japan and…" hesitating, Italy fidgeted a bit. "It was nice to be with you but now I want to go back home… with them…"

"I–Italy…" Germany was feeling oddly touched.

He'd thought that this little Italy was just afraid of him, yet now this same Italy was standing in front of him, trying to 'protect him' from America. It was oddly touching.

A small smile graced Germany's lips –it looked like this little Italy was really not that different from the one he knew…

The Allied Powers grouped together behind England and America, facing Germany, and the rest of the Rescue Team moved to back the German Nation instead, for a moment still with a tearing up Italy between them.

And it was then that England's spell vanished.

There was a loud popping noise and the room was suddenly filled with smoke.

Germany coughed and instantly backed away in an attempt to avoid the cloud, but at the same time, his heart increased its speed when he realised what that meant.

He heard England cursing somewhere in front of him, and Romano joining in with a string of curses of his own somewhere in the back, but he kept his calm.

Tentatively, he cleared his throat. "Italy? Can you hear me?"

There was a moment of silence, then–

"Germany!"

Something hit him on the chest, arms wrapping around his midsection, sending him sprawled on the ground with a heavy weight on top of him; Germany's back collided painfully with the floor, both arms coming to circle the offending weight, knowing already what it was –or better then, who it was.

"Italy! Let go of me this instant!" he yelled, voice rough and commanding, feigning annoyance, but inside Germany was actually secretly pleased. Everything was back to how it should be.

A loud sniffle.

"B–but Germany~ I just had this horrible nightmare where I was lost and I couldn't find myself, and it was dark and scary and I was calling your name, and then I opened my eyes and there was so much smoke, but then you were calling my name!"

Germany shook his head, relieved when the cloud of smoke finally vanished and he was able to meet Italy's big eyes, filled with relieved tears.

"Italy, why are you crying…"

Letting go of the other Nation's waist, Italy quickly moved up and pecked a kiss on Germany's cheek, his teary expression melting into a warm, happy smile. "I'm glad Germany came to save me~"

Turning crimson, Germany looked away, suddenly overcome by embarrassment. "Ah… I…"

"Awww, what? He's big now…" America looked down at Italy lavishing Germany with hugs and kisses and pouted dejectedly. Bye bye to his sidekick–brother–colony!

"W–whaaa! Germany~ the Allies! Hiiii!" Italy scrambled up on his feet and tugged Germany up as well, hiding behind him and demanding instant protection, not really knowing what the hell was going on but not liking it all the same.

Germany straightened his back and smirked smugly at the American Nation and at the other Allies, all of them looking equally disappointed.

"As you see, it's better as it is. We will retreat and you will never attempt something like that ever again!"

England stared at Italy with a grimace, then he felt a ghostly touch on his shoulder and he almost freaked out before realising that it was Canada, who had been forgotten during the whole fight between Allies and Rescue Team.

"C–Canada!"

"It was just a failure… please just let them go," 'and end this useless banter once for all… even though Italy as a kid could actually see me…'

Looking to the side, unwilling to admit defeat, England slowly hunched his shoulders and grunted what could pass for agreement; after a second he stomped away, muttering something about stupid kids under his breath.

Not knowing what to do all of sudden, China and Russia glanced at each other and promptly turned around and wandered away, having lost any interest in the whole situation now that Italy was back to his actual age and they couldn't coddle him anymore.

Feeling stupid but unwilling to admit it with himself, America scratched the back of his head, unsure whether to let it go or not; Canada let out a sigh and grabbed his arm, pulling him out of the room as well.

"I liked little Italy, though…" America muttered as he allowed his brother to tug him away

The Nations remaining in the room glanced at each other, suddenly at loss with such an anticlimactic ending, then the silence between them was broken by Spain's wail.

"Ah, my cute Ita is back to his own age~ I don't know whether to be sad or not…"

"S–shut up, you bastard! J–just thank God that England didn't mess you up too much!"

"Aww, but Romanito, you know I can take care of that stuck up Brit…"

Hungary smiled and brushed away the dirt from her skirt, feeling satisfied with herself after all, and shared a look with an equally pleased Austria. Things were back to normality, it seemed… "Ah, but… Ita…"

Japan shifted a bit and Hungary glanced at him, attention attracted by his small movement. The two stared at each other again, sharing a mutual disappointment similar to that of Spain.

'I can't believe the spell was broken so soon… I had hoped to dress little Ita with all those cute outfits…'

'It was surely a great disappointment, and it is all the Allied Powers' fault…'

A small pause, then Japan extracted the edge of a camera from his jacket. Hungary's eyes glinted.

'But at least, we are not left empty–handed…'

'Ah, Japan, you surely know how to make a girl happy…'

Austria shivered as he watched Hungary's eyes turn dreamy, and forced himself to look away. He didn't want to know.

"Let's go now, before they decide to come back!" Germany grabbed Italy's wrist and tugged him, leading the group out of England's house from the main entrance.

Japan politely excused himself, parting from them as soon as they got away from the enemy territories in a haste to go back home –mumbling something about photos– and he left with a bow and a smile to Italy.

Austria and Hungary politely declined Germany's offer to accompany them back to their houses, and Spain was pushed away by a fierce, angry Romano muttering curses at him, and even Prussia disappeared, unsure whether to be happy that his cute Ita was back to his rightful age or to be sad at seeing cute little Ita gone again.

In the end, only Germany and Italy were left walking towards Germany's house, with the blond Nation still holding tightly Italy's wrist, almost in reassurance at the other's presence.

Italy was not sure what had happened –he didn't remember falling asleep, nor did he remember going at England's house– but Germany had been there, and that was enough for him. Germany was always there to help him and protect him.

"Ve~ Germany will always come to help me if I'm in danger, right? Even in my dreams~"

Germany's entire face turned crimson, even his ears, and Italy giggled, finding the sight cute while the other Nation spluttered something unintelligible.

After a moment of silence, Germany cleared his throat.

"W–well, I am sure that if I ever… find myself in a pinch, you will be the one to come and help me, right, Italy?"

Italy turned his bright smile at his friend and gently held the other Nation's hand into his own. "I am weak and I'm scared of fighting, but if Germany needs me, I will try to gather all my courage to help him, if he accepts what little help I can offer!"

Germany found himself smiling as well, remembering the small, weak little Italy standing in front of him with his little, chubby arms stretched wide.

"Yes, of course," he murmured.

Italy was taken aback –he'd expected Germany to use this opportunity to rant on how Italy would never be helpful unless he trained, and yet…

Italy felt his cheeks grow warm all of sudden as his heart sped up, a reaction he didn't quite understand.

Smiling like that and looking at him with something akin to warmth… it made Germany look familiar, but in a way Italy could not explain.

Who…

"Come on, Italy! There's still enough time to train until supper!"

He shook himself out of his thoughts and brought his (wrong) hand up to his forehead. "Yessir!"

Germany forced his smile down and led the Italian Nation to his house. Maybe he would allow Italy to cook pasta for dinner, after all.

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The Allied Powers hesitantly glanced at each other, sitting at the same table with a bunch of war plans scattered in front of them.

Nobody spoke, not even to comment on how stupid it would be to follow America's plan, that included dressing up as seals and a lot of spray paint.

Even England looked vaguely gloomy, which was… uh, well, which was rather normal in most circumstances, but usually included him drunk or with a hangover.

"Uh… I miss the little kid, aru…"

China slumped down with his cheek on the table, and pouted. He meant little Italy, of course, but part of him was thinking about another little kid that he'd lost a lot of years before.

"He was little and lively and wanted to become one with me…" Russia was still smiling, but the dark, violet aura swirling around him spoke volumes of his real mood.

"Come on, you can't be so depressed for such a trivial thing!" America slammed his hand on the table, making China jump and glare at him. "If you want, we can play the airplane together! Hahaha~"

China, England, France and Russia glanced at each other, all of them with the same, identical mental image passing through their heads –America holding each of them up in the air, laughing like idiots…

England's mental image then spiralled downwards in a territory best not spoken during the day (or with an audience not yet of legal age), and allowed himself a moment to be ashamed of his own thoughts before collecting himself again.

"Oh, definitely no, aru!"

"Not unless America likes to wear red and wants to join Mother Russia, da?"

"Big Brother France has a special plane you can play with, Ameriq–"

"Shut up, you lecherous pervert!"

"Wasn't that thought the same as what you were dreaming moments ago, Angleterre?"

As the banter digressed into a full–out war between England and France, with America standing on the side and cheering now for one, now for the other, and China retired in the kitchen to cook some more while Russia made himself comfortable on his seat, feeling a bit melancholic, the only one left to think about the whole situation's fiasco was Canada.

Not that he was doing it, though.

After all he was too busy recriminating how Russia needed to just stop sitting on him. it wasn't that nice.

Life continued onwards, England's little magic trick was soon forgotten… and maybe it was better that way.

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SOY: once again, a big thank you to all the people who read and reviewed this fic of mine. Thank you so very much!