I posted this fic a few months ago to my livejournal account, but I really am attached to this piece and so I thought I would post it here, too. This is set in the same world as my old fic, One Big Happy, but it is not necessary to read that one in order to understand this one.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia.
Better Left Unsaid
The sun was low on the horizon, the sky painted bright hues of reds and oranges. The colors reflected over the Mediterranean Sea, waves of fire tangled in waves of deep blue water.
Rome beheld the Sea with the same fire shining in his own auburn eyes. His body was marred with wounds, scars healing up from the battles that had ended so soon, his heart still raced as he recalled them. As always, he had been the victor, and the addition of new territory left him feeling stronger than any pain could dilute.
Soon one of the underlings had come up to tell him that they were ready to dock, and Rome turned around to behold the faint coastline of his land. Simply the sight of Italy's shore made Rome feel suddenly more content, and he relaxed against the bow of the ship as they sailed into home.
Romulus' wall; the first divider to enclose Rome and protect it from the attack of outsiders. Rome could not remember much of his early days; wolves and twins and Etruscan remains were the few things that came to mind whenever he tried to recall his childhood.
Though, it was true he did not do so very frequently. He did not like to think of those times when everything was taller than he was, simply because he had greater things to be reminiscing about than the memories of fear and attachment.
Recently, however, he had days, moments, when the memories locked away in the back of his mind would take an unprecedented place front and center. Chalking it up to the birth and partial guardianship of two young sons, Rome would entertain these sudden moods like an old friend, taking walks along the sites of his founding and early history as he reminisced.
This is what brought him here, to the wall that Romulus and his brother had built to protect him. It was, as far he knew, the place of his birth and his earliest memories. There were a few guards here and there, scattered about, paying him no heed as he went on his noontime stroll.
He was lost in his thoughts, remembering the feel and smell of the land as it was, back when it was devoid of his rich culture. It was still an extension of his body, then and now, he realized as he inhaled, his city now and forever.
The sound of a piercing cry cut sharply into his thoughts, soft whimpers following the harsh sound and filling the empty air with its shakiness. Rome found himself rushing to the noise, coming from behind a leafy green bush.
Rome pushed a branch aside, and found that he was staring at the naked, infant version of himself.
He hesitated, and the child opened his wet eyes and stared up at him. Not only did the boy have the same sun-kissed tan, and the beginnings of the same sharp, bold features as Rome, but his eyes were an identical shade of auburn.
The infant was watching him as intently as Rome himself was staring, but after a moment his sobs renewed. Rome shook off the shock and brushed his large hand in the boy's thin hair. A sensation rattled in his bones and he knew:
This boy was an infant nation.
"What is your name, son?" He asked gently, his rough fingers sliding down the baby's soft cheek. Rome did not expect an answer; his question was lighthearted as his mind started to come up with the answer.
He was not expecting an answer, and most certainly not one that would prove more fateful than anything Graecia's Oracle atop Delphi could have predicted.
The boy nuzzled into the hand, eyes red rimmed and mouth still worked into a pout, before he snapped softly, confidently,
The sea breeze was cool along the Mediterranean coast, the roasting sun resting behind fluffy white clouds and the air tasting of salt. Graecia and Aegyptus sat on the sandy beach of Rome, their sons treading the shallow water, splashing one another and filling the atmosphere with their laughter.
"What do you think it is Rome wanted us to come see so urgently?" Graecia pondered, legs stretched out and eyes wandering from her son to the sky and back. Aegyptus, seated beside her with her knees curled up to her chest, was gazing into great sea with a faraway look in her eyes.
At the lack of response, Graecia looked up.
The smaller woman sighed. She turned to her sister, eyes no longer far but painfully sharp, and bit at her lip.
"Am I the only one with a sense of dread, Helen?" She murmured, using the gentle nickname for the Grecian woman that the duo had long grown out of.
Graecia looked back towards the sea, at her son dozing on the shore while Gupta molded sand around his legs, and her brows suddenly furrowed.
"Hey, hey, why these long faces?" Rome's booming voice called, as he came up behind the women and nestled himself in the sand, making a third point in their small triangle.
It was impossible for the two Mediterranean beauties to miss the infant latched around their lover's neck. To them, it was as if they were looking at another Rome; where the child's arms hung around his neck, their skin tones blended so seamlessly it was as if they were painted by the same brush. His nose was similarly long, his eyes the same almond shape, and beneath their equally thick lashes they were just as bold and bright a shade of molten clay. In the child's thin hair there was already evidence of the wayward curl.
"Rome." Aegyptus said curtly, the name alone full of question. Both man and boy blinked at her in an eerily similar gesture, and the boy quickly pouted again, burying his face into Rome's armor.
The empire sighed, carting his fingers in the baby's hair and smiling sheepishly. "I can explain!"
"Please, do." Graecia's tone was cold, and Rome remembered the amount of hurt she'd carried when he courted Aegyptus after he had her. By this point, the two toddler nations on the shore were all but forgotten, as they both suddenly looked up and stared from their distance.
"This is my son. He has no mother, and no other father. But he is mine."
Rome shrugged, ignoring the infant's beating against his armor. "I have no idea. I found him…"
No, no, that didn't feel quite right. Looking down at the boy, who was looking at him expectantly, he amended,
"Rather, he found me. Near the walls of Romulus. But his image is my image, we're made of the same mold, he cannot belong to anyone but me."
Rome found himself reluctant to disclose the real source of his confidence. When the boy had first uttered his name, the man found himself unable to do anything but stare. The words had come from the infant's mouth so confidently, so readily, Roma sum, as if he was born with the knowledge.
What scared Rome the most was that, for a split second, he had believed him.
It was the younger, baby "Rome" who had snapped him from his thoughts when he started to bang his small, angry fist into the man's knee. Rome lifted the grumpy child into his arms, and on the inside the feeling of being complete soared like wildfire through his veins. The child appeared to have felt the sensation as well; the tension in his muscles slackened, and he looked up at the man holding him as if he had not just been staring at him, as if he'd never, ever seen him.
"So," Graecia began, bringing Rome back to the present where the disgruntled child in his arms was wriggling for freedom. "You found this child, and adopted him out of the blue? What if he has actual parents looking for him, Rome?"
"He doesn't," Aegyptus murmured, taking the child away from Rome and rocking him in such a way that he relaxed instantly.
"He has no other family. He is one of us," she continued in her soft tone, looking from the child in her arms to her own son, who was staring at her intently, and then to give Rome a sharp, demanding look. Her voice remained demure, though the intensity in her gaze was anything but.
"What did you say his name was?"
Graecia's face suddenly brightened with realization, then worry.
"Then, may you? I expect we'll be doing a lot of caring for him, after all," Aegyptus continued, and before Rome could collect his thoughts the boy snapped.
He buried his face in Aegyptus' stomach, giving her an angry, tired look before yawning and shutting his eyes.
The petite woman looked up at her adult companions, then over to the two young boys who had abandoned their play and were coming to their mothers' sides, and smiled ruefully.
Time passed. The young boy, who Rome found himself calling Romano because he refused to answer to any other name, continued to latch onto the older nation, even though he seemed to be frustrated with him most of time. He took well to Rome's other children, for the most part, both those who were his 'natural' sons like Gupta and Heracles, and those Rome had adopted, Antonio and Francis.
But, Rome noticed, the infant was only truly happy when he was surrounded by the essence of Rome, its culture and its people. As such, Rome found himself taking the young boy out as often he could to places where the child could watch the artisans and the chefs and the winemakers.
That afternoon, it was a sculptor. With a well trained eye and steady hands he handled the marble before him as though it was a child's toy. Romano sat on the floor of his shop absolutely enraptured with the craftsman, his golden-brown eyes wide and happy as he took in every little motion.
The sculptor, too, seemed delighted by his audience; he laughed and cooed and handed the boy a small piece of pottery clay he kept in his shop to play with. Romano brightened, throwing his hands happily into the mess and pressing it between his tiny fingers. It started to take shape; a body, a head, four legs, a long tail. Curves were smoothed out, ears added, and Romano turned to his father with a gurgle, holding out the final piece. It was the model of a cat, crafted nearly seamlessly, an incredible feat from a person without proper joints. Rome smiled proudly, patting the boy on his head and causing Romano to lift his arms.
"Is this your grandson?" The sculptor asked Rome as the man scooped up both Romano and the clay kitten, putting the latter in the oven to harden.
Rome hesitated. Being a grandfather meant being old. It meant losing his strength, his power, and that was his entire integrity as a nation.
But it also meant that he was wise, strong, a man with a history of successes behind him. It meant that to Romano he would be more than simply a father to raise him, but a grandfather to be the source of wisdom and power. After all, fathers always had a spot of envy for their sons, something grandfathers never had to worry about.
"Yes," he said finally, "Yes, I am."
The sculptor chuckled, smoothing out a curve on his sculpture as Romano nuzzled in Rome's neck.
"Does he speak yet?" the man continued amiably, but Rome tensed.
"No, he's still too young for that."
"Oh? I don't think that at all; your boy is a prodigy if I've ever seen one. Come on, son, show your grandfather how smart you are!"
Romano removed his face from the warm column of Rome's neck; the older man did not even have to wonder what the boy was going to say.
Rome sighed; it was the only thing Romano could say. Would say, more like, since every time it was spoken indignantly.
This time the artisan laughed. "Yes, you are. The future of Rome, you and you your fellow prodigies." He turned to Rome with a grin, "We'd better take care of this one. I have a feeling he's destined for great things."
When Rome chuckled along with him, it was hard and forced.
Romano rubbed at his eyes, lips downturned in a scowl as tears scurried down his wet, chubby cheeks. He started to whimper in the way Rome had come to learn was more a front than actually crying, though he decided this time it was worth heeding the sound.
"There, there. It's alright, boy. It's just a little salt; blink a few times and you'll have your eyes back."
Romano, for once, listened to his guardian without question. His eyelids dropped over his hazel eyes once, twice, and again, fluttering quickly before relaxing.
Rome smiled, taking the boy's arms in his hands and lifting him up so that only the tips of his toes skimmed the water. A short way away, the Empire's heavy brass armor sat in the sand, ignored in favor of the vast sea. Rome dipped Romano's feet into the Mediterranean's shallow coast, and the boy's giggle echoed around them.
Romano was such a two sided character, Rome mused, even for a child. When he was distracted, it was simple to catch him laughing, or giving a grin that betrayed his few front baby teeth as he gurgled contently. But the moment he realized he was being given any attention, his brow would furrow and he would gain an expression of grave seriousness which was tough to phase. He was so much more of a hassle than any other child Nation Rome had ever dealt with, and that was no small number.
Shaking his head, Rome swung the child up into the air and caught him tightly, Romano giving a whooping laugh as he soared. Perhaps it was not the time to dwell on the bad moments; for now the infant was more than pleased, and that had to be good enough.
"I love you, Romano."
Rome had no idea why the phrase slipped from his mouth as he cradled the content child close to his chest, but it felt so natural he was not even worried. Romano had given him a brief glance, and Rome wondered if he was going to argue over names once again, but the hazel eyes had turned back to the sea and he reached out for it.
The elder smiled, kissing his junior's temple and settling him down gently on the wet sand, his heart full nearly to bursting with paternal pride and a connection that he could not name with the child who was crawling in to splash his chubby hands into the sea.
It was starting to become difficult for Rome to deal with Romano.
At first the determined proclamation of "Roma sum!" came as a shock, which faded into some mix of flattery and concern. As time passed, and Rome became more used to hearing it, the squeal became nothing short of exasperating.
Now, however, something in the Great Empire's chest would tighten whenever the boy opened his mouth.
"Roma sum!" Romano said in protest, chucking his portion of bread on the floor and crossing his arms over his chest. He resembled a two year old human child now, able to walk on his own and even to run, so long as the ground was forgiving enough. Sadly, it meant that he had honed other motor skills, as well as his ability to speak.
"Are you ever going to grow tired of saying that, boy?" Rome snapped, towering over his young charge with annoyance etched in his features and his heart clenched tightly. "You are not and will never be Rome. I am Rome!"
"Roma sum! Roma sum!"
Romano's face was becoming red from screeching, his voice getting louder and louder. Rome could not even remember what started his tantrum, but he knew exactly what was going to end this game once and for all.
"No you are not!" The Great Empire bellowed back, and Romano froze. There were tear stains down his cheeks and his breathing was halted in fear. But Rome could no longer hold back.
"You are not Rome! You're just a silly little boy, a lost child! Go, find the Nation you belong to!"
Romano was panting now, and fat tears were rolling down his cheeks, which were only becoming more strikingly crimson. Rome suddenly felt the desire to take it all back, to hold this boy and never let him go, but before he could move Romano shouted with all his breath:
Faster than Rome had ever seen him move, Romano was gone.
Rome was at a loss. For a fortnight he searched endlessly, tearing his land apart for sight of the bouncing hair curl and the chubby little boy it belonged to, but to no avail. Wherever Romano was, he was not in Rome.
The older Nation refused to believe it. Even though there was a new heaviness in his bones, a sluggish sense of something not being quite right, Rome refused to believe Romano was gone. So, when his search turned up fruitless, he realized he needed to do something he'd never done before.
"Aegyptus, Graecia," he started dolefully, looking at the two women who were sitting on the couch in his atrium. Turning to the man sitting on the chair beside them, he swallowed and continued, "Germania."
That was an invitation to start speaking. He wasn't surprised to find that he had to speak around a lump in his throat; how exactly was he going to say this?
"Romano is gone."
It was succinct, and it was true. Rome tried to shake away the feeling that he was hiding something, but found himself having to mask it when it remained.
The other three grown Nations reacted exactly as Rome had expected; Graecia was instantly concerned, Aegyptus' thin eyebrows furrowed in thought, and Germania simply seemed bored.
"What do you mean gone?" Graecia started quickly, already itching to go search. In any other case, Rome would have smiled; as much as she seemed to have disliked Romano at times, Graecia was undeniably maternal towards him.
This time, of course, he could not smile. He was too busy coming up with an answer that did not give too much away about what he did.
"What did you do?" Aegyptus followed up, her amber eyes burning with unspoken emotion. Rome wondered why he believed she wouldn't catch on.
What had he done? He had told the boy off, told him to leave home. A child, a baby, one who was lost and one who had trusted him.
One that he had loved more than anything.
Rome felt the reality of the situation hit him like a ton of bricks, and not for the first time. He looked up at the others, who were already making assumptions about his silence. Aegyptus looked as if she was about to speak again, but before she could utter a syllable Germania spoke in a gruff, quiet voice.
"You won't last forever. Graecia and Aegyptus have their sons, and I have mine. We know what they're destined for, and what that means for us."
Germania paused, letting his words sink in before looking his rival and his friend in the eye and concluding,
"Maybe it's time you grew up, Rome."
Without another word, Germania strode out, the door slamming shut behind him.
Aegyptus nodded to what her sister had said, and looked back at Rome. His expression was akin to that of a kicked puppy, lost and hurt.
"Rome," she sighed, "I am going to die. Graecia is going to die. That is why we have Gupta and Heracles, is it not?"
"But… they have to be Nations of another land! You can't-!"
The African beauty shook her head lightly.
"You pushed him away, Rome. You told him you didn't need a successor, and you scared him off!" Graecia stood, her face twisted into anger. "And now look, you're going to fall apart and there will be no one around to ensure that Rome thrives!"
The Great Roman Empire looked down at his hands, suddenly realizing how mortal he'd become. Scars that should have healed were still marring his palms, and there was a slight pressure on his shoulders; the weight of humanity.
He looked up again, determination shining in his hazel eyes.
"Will you two help me look?"
He smiled at the readiness of the answer, but there was still a nagging question in his mind.
"…Do you think we'll find him?"
The lack of an answer was answer enough.
Romano was never found.
Rome searched. He searched in every home, every tree in the outlying forest, behind every boulder on the seashore, and every place he could imagine in between. He soon found himself asking his other adopted children of Roman provinces: Gallia, Hispania, even as far as Britannia, but to no avail.
He never stopped searching. Whenever there was no war and no political struggles, he spent the entirety of his time walking down streets and over dirt and sand, hands cupped around his mouth and only one word on his lips.
The search was fruitless. Rome did not want to admit defeat, but every night when it was too dark to see before him it seemed as if defeat was beating him over the head with guilt and shame.
After a couple of years of this, Rome was becoming tired. Romano was evasive, as he always had been when he was upset, but this could hardly be blamed on the child. As he leaned against a wall overlooking one of the canals in the northern part of his land, he tried to remember what it was like for him when he was that young. He was depressed to find he could no longer recall those times as he had on the day he had found Romano.
Suddenly, there was a tap on his leg. He looked over his shoulder to find a small child, smaller than Romano had been when he left, standing on the ground as if he was about to lose his balance and looking up with hopeful brown eyes.
"Ubi Roma es?"
Rome blinked. The child bore a striking resemble to Romano, he noticed immediately. His skin and hair were lighter and his eyes were darker, but the shape and arrangement of his facial features was identical to that of the other boy. Rome's heart thudded in his chest, but the boy remained blissfully unaware. He looked up at Rome expectantly, shuffling his feet and blinking.
"Oh, uh, Rome?" The boy nodded fervently, and Rome chuckled.
"Why, that would be me."
The child frowned, obvious confusion on his features. He held tighter onto the hem of Rome's skirt to steady himself and stared intently at the elder's face.
He surprised Rome by not protesting. Instead he smiled, and gave a gurgled giggle that made the lone curl in his hair bounce. It was a painful reminder of what Rome had lost, and so he scooped the boy up.
Somehow, he was unsurprised to feel that same sensation of warmth and completeness he had the first time he'd lifted Romano. But this little boy was still unlike the other, clinging tightly to him and sighing contently.
"What is your name?" Rome asked gently, but the only answer he got was a soft snore. The babe had already fallen asleep.
Rome chuckled deeply and, stroking through the infant's hair, whispered in his ear:
"Don't worry, son. I'll treat you right."
Veneziano, as the boy was soon named, was a lover of the arts.
It was a painful reminder of Romano, but Rome continued the tradition by taking him to artisans' shops and out into the town where the musicians played and the bards sang. Veneziano was openly delighted with everything, always smiling and giggling and clapping his chubby palms together in joy. So different from Romano, who huffed and pouted and needed to be coaxed into happiness.
Rome realized, not for the first time, that he really needed to stop comparing them.
Today it was a poet, standing in the center of the Roman street, recounting the tales of the heroes of Rome's past. As the Empire himself sat and reminisced, Veneziano rested in his lap, eyes wide and mind engrossed in the language and the story. It was apparent that he could understand everything, and that he was mesmerized by the poet's melodious voice.
Rome smiled and brushed his hand through the boy's bangs, and Veneziano looked back up at him with a smile so bright it outshone any star. It filled the grown man's heart with warmth, so much so that he held the boy more tightly to him as the story went on.
Veneziano was a very, very gifted painter.
It filled Rome with pride to watch his grandson, sitting on a hill with the sun shining overhead, press careful brush stroke after careful brush stroke down on his canvas in the likeness of a pink nosed, ivory furred rabbit. The child's eyebrows were furrowed in concentration, and every few minutes he looked up at Rome as if seeking approval.
"It's beautiful, Veneziano," he beamed, patting the boy's auburn hair. "Very beautiful."
Veneziano mirrored the smile, and turned back to the bunny, sliding his brush over the canvas once more and starting to slip in shading that was, Rome had to admit, amateurish but still far past anything a normal child that size could accomplish.
"Just like Romano…" he mused, and it was only a split second after the words were out of his mouth that he'd caught himself. Too late, since Veneziano had already turned to him, eyes wide with expectation as he echoed, "Roma?"
Rome tried to play it off with a laugh, but when even that came out of his throat too forced he sighed and gave a sheepish smile.
"No, Veneziano, I'm Rome. Romano is…" he trailed off, but looking into those large, curious brown eyes compelled him to finish:
"Well, he's your older brother."
Veneziano blinked, his eyes widening even more; he was starting to look quite comical, actually. Rome could not laugh, though; he couldn't do much but feel guilty, and even then he wasn't sure why exactly that was.
"Brother?" Veneziano repeated, testing the word on his tongue. He had, unlike Romano, taken a taste for words when he grew a bit, and was repeating nearly everything he heard as of late.
This was, however, the first time he said anything with any sort of weight in his tone.
"Tell me," the boy asked, putting his canvas down and setting his hands in his lap. "Tell."
Rome, despite himself, could not keep the smile off his face. He gave a heavy sigh, lifted Veneziano and put him in his lap,
"Alright, I will."
Days turned into decades, and soon the weakness that had started up in Rome's bones centuries ago became impossible to ignore. The past few years had shown Rome the deaths of Aegyptus and Graecia, two of the most important people in his life. People, he realized belatedly, who he'd taken for granted.
Rome never thought it could be like this. He watched his lovers pass after so much suffering, so that neither of them could even move from their beds, but never did he think he was going to be the one tucked under those covers.
He was, though. And while the two women had been lucky enough to be graced with his presence on their death beds, Rome had to settle for Germania. The man who was probably mostly responsible for his current state of weakness, and probably the only person in the world who didn't melt under Rome's beautiful smile.
Needless to say, Rome was not so keen on having Germania hang over him as his fever raged and his body started to give out. And, for the first time since he'd found the boy, having Veneziano around didn't help. The child was neurotic, asking every few minutes when his grandfather was going to be better or what he could do to help him, and when he wasn't asking he was whimpering.
"D-Don't worry, Veneziano," he grumbled, clearing his throat and giving a weak smile, "I'm going to be just fine."
Rome looked past the child, who'd fixed his fearful auburn eyes on the old man, and out the window behind him, catching sight of the orange sky, painted by the sunset. He sighed softly, placing his hand over the much smaller one on his chest, and smiled at Veneziano.
"Don't worry about me. I lived a nice, full life, and looking back now I don't think I would change a thing. So you shouldn't mourn over me, because I have no regrets."
Veneziano sniffled, rubbing his teary eyes with his free hands and murmuring, "Avus… Nonno…"
Rome chuckled breathlessly, "That's a cute nickname. I like it."
At that, Veneziano burst into tears, and Germania stood from his stool, rolling his eyes.
"That's enough, now," he snapped gruffly, but his hand was on the child's shoulder in a motion that could only be described as tender. Rome smiled, then fell into a coughing fit. Veneziano whimpered again.
"He's right. I think… you can go now, Veneziano…" I don't want you to be here when it happens.
Veneziano looked taken aback, but Germania ushered him out of the room. He stopped in the doorway, however, turning back to the man in bed, to his predecessor and his most beloved family, and sniffled,
"I love you, Nonno."
Rome smiled, his eyes prickly with tears that for once he would not deny.
"I love you too, Veneziano."
They left the room, the door swinging shut behind them, and Rome turned to the window once more and sighed.
The name slipped from his lips cloaked in a sigh, and for a moment he thought he saw a hair curl bounce right outside his window. But that wasn't possible…
"Romano," he repeated, this time more clearly, and suddenly the head of his long-lost grandchild popped into the window frame.
"Is this Heaven?" he pondered, but soon the child outside had swung his leg over the window pane and was climbing into the room.
"More like Hell." The boy snorted, sitting on the stool by the bed that had been Germania's and scoffing. His cheeks were flushed, though, and Rome smiled.
"So, you can speak."
"Of course I can, you bastard."
Rome frowned, which led to another coughing fit. "W-Where… Where did you learn such language?"
Romano shrugged, impatient, and asked abruptly, "Why didn't you look for me?"
"I looked everywhere!"
"Then, why didn't you find me?"
Rome paused. Then he let his eyes fall shut, murmuring, "Why didn't you want to be found?"
"…I just… wanted someone to look."
Romano kicked at the floor, not meeting his grandfather's now watchful gaze.
"Did you miss me?"
"So why did you replace me?"
Rome shut his eyes once more, "I couldn't. I will admit, the idea crossed my mind, but… Veneziano just isn't you."
Romano sighed heavily, hopping off the stool.
"Goodbye, old man," he mumbled, turning once again to crawl out of the window whence he came.
"You were right."
"Now that I'm gone, I guess you're Rome."
The boy's muscles tightened, but he exhaled deeply and looked back into the hazel eyes that were so much like his own.
"A parting gift isn't going to change the way I feel about you, bastard, especially not when it's my birthright," he replied curtly, but then his eyes dropped to the floor once more and added, "But… I guess, maybe, you could have been worse…"
Rome smiled brightly, and Romano flushed, "D-don't let it get to your head… I just… didn't want you to die mad at me."
"I was never mad at you, Romano."
Romano offered Rome a fleeting smile, before turning around and finally leaving the room.
But, not before Rome saw the tears in his eyes.
Romano knew that Rome's other grandson was going to seek him out. It made sense to him, anyways; people were already beginning to refer to them as brothers, even though the two had never met, and from what he could tell Veneziano was a very clingy person.
Not that losing Rome hadn't hurt Romano, too. Rome had made it sound like Romano was impossible to find, while in truth he'd been within seeing distance increasingly more often as the years passed. Instead of being at the end of the old man's tender affections and coddling, though, he was resigned to watching from afar. The pit of jealously in his stomach was ignited when it seemed like Rome had forgotten about him, and being given back his birthright in the Empire's final moments of life was not enough to make Romano ready to meet his younger brother.
But, unfortunately, he had to be; the younger child of Rome had found him and was looking at him with bright, curious eyes.
"F-Frater?" he started nervously, and Romano huffed.
"Man up. Rome's dead, and you're a Nation now. Don't act like a child!"
"B-But…" Veneziano mumbled, biting his lip and looking away from his brother. "W-We're one nation! S-So we should introduce ourselves! I'm Veneziano!"
Romano shook his head, scoffing.
"I know who you are," he started, "I know…" That Grandpa loved you best.
"Oh. That's good!"
Romano hummed, shaking his head softly and saying only to fill the silence, "I'm Romano."
Veneziano seemed to cheer up at that, engulfing his older brother in a tight hug and whispering, "I think we're going to get along really well!"
Romano wondered why his brother had to inherit Rome's stupidity, but there was still something about how hopeful Veneziano was that kept him from squirming in the other's embrace.
"Hey," Veneziano started as he took a step back, "have you ever heard of pasta?"
"Pasta! It's a food that came from the East! It's delicious! Come on, Romano, you have to try some!"
"W-Wait, Veneziano, where are you taking me?"
"Pasta, pasta, pasta~"
"Veneziano, you idiot!"
A/N: I'll admit it, the ending was a cop-out. Don't let that change your opinion of me; I had a hard time figuring out how the last few lines should go. I tried to play around with languages and how a Nation declaring their own language might be a form of independence, hence the switches from Latin to Italian.
The inspiration for this fic came from some of the (ridiculous) things Romano had said about his relationship with Rome in Episode 16 of World Series Hetalia. In my head, when Romano vanishes he stays in Germania for a bit, a place that Rome actually doesn't search for him in. Perhaps this may be why he hates Germans so? Anyways, I left that open so you're all free to your interpretations.
Thank you all for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!