Pairing: Ludwig Beilschmidt/Feliciano Vargas (Germany/Italy)

Summary: AU. Italy, WW2. Feliciano Vargas is a passionate, if slightly scared, Italian resistance member. Falling in love with a German fighter pilot was the last thing he expected... and it will test his national loyalty, and his heart, to their limits.

This is a companion story to my US/UK fic, "We'll Meet Again." It tells Feliciano and Ludwig's story of events. You do not need to have read that story to understand this one, however.

Feliciano did not know what else to do. Couldn't this shouting officer see that he obviously didn't speak German? Feliciano tried again, waving his little white flag even faster. He always carried it for these sorts of situations, but today it did not seem to be working.

"I don't understand you! Kein Deutsch! I really would like to answer you but I have no idea what you're saying! Sprechen sie Italienisch? Englisch?"

This did not work either. The German just yelled louder. Feliciano cringed under the verbal assault and tried to shrink even smaller. This was completely unfair! All he'd wanted to do was walk to the village market to buy flour, and he'd been stopped on the road by this loud German soldier who seemed incredibly angry about something and wouldn't stop yelling at him in the unfamiliar language. Feliciano was used to seeing the Germans in and around the village by now, but he had never had to deal with something like this before. He was terrified.

"I'm sorry!" cried Feliciano as the German grew even angrier, his voice rising to a deafening volume. "I don't know what you…" Feliciano's heart stopped in his chest when the German pulled his gun from its holster. The entire street and surrounding fields seemed to turn on their side. But the soldier didn't point the weapon – instead he lifted it above his head and Feliciano watched as the butt of the gun moved swiftly towards him. He closed his eyes and braced for the impact. It didn't come. Instead, the sound of another German speaking reached his ears and Feliciano risked opening an eye and peeking upwards.

This new German was tall, big, blond, and spoke angrily to the soldier, whose arm he held in a firm grip. He seemed to have come from nowhere. Feliciano watched, wide-eyed, as the blond officer spoke a few more angry words before releasing the soldier and dismissing him curtly. The soldier saluted hastily and hurried away. Feliciano grasped his white flag, took a deep breath, and waited edgily to see what would happen next. The officer looked down at him and started to speak in German, but broke off. After a few tense moments, he asked, "I don't suppose you speak English?"

Feliciano breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh, thank goodness! Yes, I speak English! That soldier, he kept yelling at me, and I didn't know what he wanted, and he was really loud and angry and scary and thank you so much for stopping him from hitting me, and are you going to arrest me?"

The German looked a little dazed. "You're welcome. No, I am not going to arrest you."

"Oh, good!" Feliciano smiled and the officer paused before continuing.

"I am sorry about him. He wanted to see your identification papers."

"Oh," said Feliciano, scrambling to retrieve the papers from his back pocket. "I have them here, I…"

"No…" The German held up his hands, palms outward. "It is fine, really. Are you... are you all right?"

Feliciano smiled again. This was the nicest German soldier he had ever encountered, even if he was very stern looking and he didn't smile. "Yes, I'm fine. Thank you."

The German nodded perfunctorily. "You're welcome," he said again. Feliciano waited but the German didn't continue and just looked down at him intently. Feliciano felt his breath come faster as he stared back. It almost felt like the German was looking right through him. His eyes were the bluest thing Feliciano had ever seen.

"So…" said Feliciano finally, feeling like he was breaking a spell in speaking. "Can I keep going to the market now? Because I am supposed to buy flour and I'm already late and I don't want my Grandpa to get worried."

The German blinked a few times and his eyes finally flicked up to look past Feliciano. "Please." He gestured for Feliciano to walk past.

"Thank you, nice German soldier man!" Feliciano ran past, continuing down the narrow country road towards the village. After a few steps, unsure why, he turned to look back. The German was watching after him, but he quickly turned away.

Feliciano decided it must be his lucky day. After the incident with the German soldiers, he managed to find plenty of flour to buy at the market, plus apples and even a tiny bit of sugar, which had been almost impossible to find since the start of the war. Feliciano ran cheerfully out of the village, waving to the locals as he went, and headed back down the narrow dirt road to his little farmhouse. The late afternoon sun bathed the street, the trees, and the wide open fields in a warm orange glow, and Feliciano hummed happily to himself as he swung his basket of groceries at his side.

He loved the countryside on days like this. He could almost forget the constant German presence in the village, almost not hear the sound of bombs exploding in echoes off the mountains, almost let his eyes skim over the sight of a broken down and burnt out tank on the side of the road. It was almost peaceful. As he walked, Feliciano wondered what had made the German officer stop the soldier from hitting him earlier. Feliciano had not had much to do with the Germans, trying desperately to avoid them, but his Grandpa and brother always told him that they were all horrible and nasty and evil. That officer certainly hadn't seemed horrible or evil at all. Feliciano couldn't help wondering if he would ever see him again. But he shouldn't think that. He shouldn't care. So why on earth did he?

Feliciano turned into the lane that led to his front door and was immediately greeted by the sounds of laughter and singing. He smiled and ran up to the house. As he walked into the crowded front room he was greeted by cheers. Lovino stood on a table in the centre of the room, playing his guitar and leading the crowd in a rousing revolutionary song. Feliciano laughed… Lovino must be very drunk already. The room was not large, and seemed even smaller when it was full of celebrating revolutionaries. Grandpa Roma crossed the room and took the basket from Feliciano before replacing it with a bottle of wine and pulling him into a hug. "Welcome home, Feliciano! Oh, you got apples and sugar, good boy!"

"Grandpa, what's going on?" asked Feliciano, wondering what the crowd could be celebrating this evening.

"Today is a good day for a free Italy!"

Feliciano knew what that meant. He'd heard it enough times by now. "What was the prize today?"

"A shipment of ammunition coming out of the mountains." Roma turned and yelled to the room, "That's one load of bullets the Germans won't be firing!"

The room erupted in cheers once again. Feliciano applauded with them, but this time his heart wasn't quite in it. "Were there many of you? Is everyone all right?"

"The losses were all to the Germans today." Roma grasped Feliciano's hand and raised it along with the wine bottle in a salute. He took a deep sip before finally releasing Feliciano's hand. "Three drivers, seven guards. Your old Grandpa took down three of them single-handedly!"

"Well done Grandpa!" Feliciano took a swig of the wine and tried to think through the loud singing and talking and cheering of the roomful of revolutionaries. He never used to think about it. Grandpa always said that the only good German soldier was a dead German soldier. But Feliciano suddenly thought, those soldiers who had been killed could have been just like the German he had met on the road today. It was strange... Grandpa had told him plenty of times about soldiers he had killed and Feliciano hadn't given it a second thought. But now that evil German he had been taught to hate had a face. A face with eyes as blue as the sky…

"So drink, Feli, and celebrate another victory for La Resistenza!"

The loud and excited resistance members cheered again. Feliciano knew all of them... villagers and farmers who opposed the German military presence in Italy and had joined forces to fight against them and sabotage their operations. They often met in the Vargas farmstead or a small cantina in the village, usually to plan a mission or to celebrate one accomplished. They were La Resistenza… the Italian resistance… and they were currently among the most wanted people in Italy. Stopping German supplies, bombing cars and tanks, gathering important tactical information; La Resistenza worked tirelessly to sabotage the efforts of the German military in Italy. And when they celebrated, it was with the same passion and thoroughness.

Lovino finished the chorus of the song, jumped down from the table and threw an arm around Feliciano. "Hey Feli!" Feliciano was right… Lovino certainly had drunk too much wine already. He was only ever this happy and sociable after a few drinks and a decisive victory.

"You weren't involved in the operation today, were you?" asked Feliciano, suddenly concerned. It was bad enough that Grandpa always went out and put himself in such risk and danger. He did not want to have to worry about his brother as well.

Lovino rolled his eyes. "If only." Lovino turned to Roma. "When are you going to let me go out with you on a real mission, Grandpa? I'm sick of just planting bombs in cars. I want to see a little more action!" Roma just laughed and threw his free arm around Lovino.

"You know I don't like to see my beloved grandsons in danger," said Roma, hugging both Feliciano and Lovino close.

Feliciano laughed. Grandpa did not need to worry about him. He was the first to admit that he tried to stay far away from danger at all times. He still contributed to the movement, usually by acquiring what information he could from the local villagers about German movements in the area. Feliciano was grateful that Grandpa Roma tried to keep him safe, but at the same time was aware that sometimes he was still treated as though he was a little child. Lovino on the other hand had been desperate to get out and into the action for years, even though Grandpa kept telling him that the purpose of the Resistance was to be seen as little as possible and that face to face conflicts were rare. But with every small increase in responsibility Grandpa allowed Lovino, he only ever wanted more.

"Next time, Lovino, I promise you," said Roma, smiling cheerfully and ruffling Lovino's hair.

"You always say that," grumbled Lovino, knocking Roma's hand away.

Roma just laughed and took the guitar from Lovino's hands. "Cheer up, Lovino. Celebrate and sing with us!" Roma strummed the guitar, turned and bowed to the room, and started playing an immediately recognisable melody. The crowded room erupted into cheers of appreciation. Then Roma burst into a song that was by now so familiar to them all.

"Una mattina mi son svegliato,
O bella, ciao! Bella, ciao! Bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
Una mattina mi son svegliato,
e ho trovato l'invasor."

The revolutionaries joined in. Lovino, drunk on wine and exhilaration, seemed to immediately forget his annoyance and started dancing with one of the local girls. Feliciano couldn't help being carried away. He drunk wine from the bottle and joined in the singing. He greeted various people cheerfully when they walked over to speak to him. He laughed and celebrated and listened to tales of victories then shouted loudly along with everyone for Grandpa Roma to play the song again. He danced and cheered and sung the song over and over until the final verse which everyone sung so loudly Feliciano was sure they would be heard even in the village.

"È questo il fiore del partigiano,
O bella, ciao! Bella, ciao! Bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
È questo il fiore del partigiano,
morto per la libertà!"

That night, exhausted, full, and happy, Feliciano lay trying to sleep with Lovino's snores coming from the bed beside his. He'd spent the night eating, drinking, talking, and singing songs of Italian freedom with the local resistance. But as he closed his eyes and contentedly drifted off to sleep, the last image to drift through his head was that of a blond haired, blue eyed German officer, standing in the sunlight and looking down at him.

To be continued…

The lyrics are from the WW2 Italian partisan song "Bella Ciao": (YouTube) /watch?v=MQtgsuIM96I

One morning I awakened
Oh bella, ciao! Bella, ciao! Bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
One morning I awakened
And I found the invader.

This is the flower of the partisan
Oh bella, ciao! Bella, ciao! Bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
This is the flower of the partisan
Who died for freedom.