Lack of reviews for last chapter depressed me...I think I only got two originally, and five over-all. As apposed to the fourteen reviews I got for chapter two. T~T And chapter three was the chapter I really wanted feedback on! Because it was so hard to write!
This chapter was hard to write too. Also, I couldn't get in the mood to write it. Blaaahhh.
3. Italy lives for now, then, and forever, always with the same smile.
Italy Veneciano has perfected the ability to simply…live.
The Italian has it down to a flawless art. The simple talent of going through each and every day with a smile, to go to every place with a skip in his step, to greet anyone and everyone with boundless joy and an excess of energy and happiness.
Germany has always been both astounded and enamored by this ability. The way Italy can go from a blubbering mess to a cheerful grin in the blink of an eye. The way he hums and sings in whatever he does. The way he manages to see the good in everyone and has more than enough room in his heart for the entire planet. To Germany, it is never less than a source of awe. How, in this chaotic world that they live in, can someone find happiness in every day and smile through painful situations with a skip in his step and pasta in hand?
Germany remembers his and the Italian's first meeting. When Italy easily transitions from crying and pleading for his life to deciding that Germany is his new best friend. The way he takes being held prisoner as a chance for a vacation, takes escape opportunities as a chance to flirt with girls, and shoots bright, honest smiles at Germany, despite the fact that the blonde man is his jailer.
Germany, stern, by the book, with a fixed view on life and how it works, cannot begin to comprehend the Italian's attitude. His seemingly perpetual happy mood, his gaiety, his silliness, his lack of any type of seriousness whatsoever. In his first meetings with Italy Veneciano, Germany remembers being nothing short of flabbergasted. His sense of relief when Italy is finally removed from his care is well founded, because the Italian's carefree lifestyle has shaken Germany's strict one. The brief amount of a time that they spend together is enough to shake the foundations of what Germany believes in, and causes him to actually consider the ridiculous possibility that, even as a nation, there is a way to...live.
Germany remembers how, in the following decades, he tries to banish the Italian from his memory. Italy's way of living does not suit Germany's strict life, and Germany attempts to pretend that the Italian did not completely rattle his own beliefs in how the world works and how nations are meant to live. However, the brief respite does not last, and with a second world war looming on the horizon, Germany once again finds himself cringing in the face of Italy's blatant enthusiasm.
Germany remembers their World War 2 relationship, and how, throughout it, he continues to see examples of Italy's ability to live for every moment, as if he didn't expect repercussion for his actions. As if, no matter what, he would come out all right. He plunges headfirst into friendship with Germany as well as Japan, two nations who both have something of an unsavory reputation on the world stage. Nations that are known for violence, for war. And yet, Italy, chooses to ally himself with them, to make friends with them, to make pasta with them and sing with them and sleep with them.
Living as if there were no possible consequences for his actions. Living his life to the fullest. With whomever he chooses, however he chooses, regardless of the enemies he procures. Despite his apparent cowardice, Italy lives as if he has no fear of the beyond.
In the first days of their alliance, Germany's previous confusion melts into utter annoyance. The way Italy clings to him, cries for help, flails about helplessly and then smiles as if he's done nothing wrong when Germany finally comes to his rescue. A huge, carefree, bright and honest smile. With his hands clasped together in happiness and his head tilted to the side adorably. Italy has no qualms with dragging Germany, and Japan, around in his ridiculous business. Pushing aside work and war to ensure that he spends time with his 'friends'. The level of naivety is laughable. Ridiculous.
But, somehow, this freeness of spirit, this bubbliness, this happiness, this willingness to live as though heaven is on Earth, loosens up Germany's gruff exterior and manages to worm the Italian into the intimidating man's heart. Italy's smile is reflected back on Germany's own face. To a lesser extent of course, but it cannot be denied that the blonde's lips have taken to quirking upwards in a rarely used expression. And slowly but surely, annoyance melts into something else.
It's amazing how quickly Italy's ceaseless enthusiasm becomes more endearing than aggravating. How the consistent tugging on Germany's arm becomes much less annoying than it once was. How a steaming plate of pasta becomes just as welcoming as a bowl of potatoes and wurst. How Germany no longer stiffens and yelps when Italy envelops him in a hug. Rather, he finds himself melting into the embrace with his newfound smile.
The change that follows is subtle, it's barely noticeable, and is easily over-shadowed by the war they're in. It's a change that neither man notices, or perhaps, choose not to notice. The possibility of something past friendship is one that Germany does not even consider. Cannot consider.
Until that day. That horrible day.
Germany remembers when Italy left. He remembers it as, perhaps, the rawest and most painful memory that he has. He remembers the days leading up to it. The ceasing of skipping around the house, the quiet crying instead of loud singing, and the sudden lack of warmth by his side at night.
And then the departure.
Italy, running out into the street, a half-open suitcase held tightly to his chest as he runs towards the car at the end of the driveway, Romano yelling at him to move faster. And himself, Germany, standing in the doorway, with his hand outstretched and a shocked, hurt, devastated, expression on his face.
Because, it is then, only then, after decades of knowing the Italian, that Germany understands the significance of the man in his life. He understands that, it's not just that Italy is full of life, full of joy, full of an abundance of happiness and love and caring and life. It's that he shares this life. That he exudes it, and shines it everywhere. And somewhere, somehow, Germany's life became tied to Italy's, and his happiness as well.
It is at least a decade before they see each other again, and with the destruction of Naples still hang over their heads, it is another decade before they can exchange words. After their first conversation however, it is remarkably easy for them to fall back into their old routine. For Germany to find himself charmed by Italy's smile, to feel a warmth bubbling in his chest that he hasn't since the Italian left and his nation began to truly fall apart.
And it is then that Germany realizes that his life is irreversibly tied to Italy's, and his ability to live to the fullest depends on the Italian. He begins to understand that the prospect of living without Italy is not one that he relishes. And he begins to realize that his life is not life without the Italian.
Because the ability to live isn't something that you can learn from a handbook, yet Italy Veneciano has it down to a fine art, and Germany considers himself lucky to have the Italian as a teacher.
Ludwig looks up from the report he is working on, the pen poised over the paper as he inclines his head downwards to regard the Italian sitting cross-legged on the floor. Feliciano smiles at him, tilting his head to the side with a wide smile, his curl bobbing slightly.
"...What?" asks Ludwig awkwardly, staring at the young man with annoyance masking the red hue that has begun to colour his cheeks.
"Hug?" repeats Feliciano, holding out his arms with a hopeful expression on his face. The smile never fades, and the slight giggle that escapes his lips deepens the flush on Ludwig's face. Despite this, Ludwig opens his mouth to reprimand him, ready to gently rebuke the Italian and remind him that they both have work to do, and that they don't have time to loll around and hug.
But Feliciano's smile is wide and honest, and he knows that the Italian has no time for work in his schedule. Not the way he lives. Enjoying each day is better than signing off a few useless documents, and choosing to pretend work does not exist is a practice that Feliciano follows vigilantly, and one that he has taken to impressing on Ludwig.
"Hug...," whines Feliciano, a pout and watery gaze replacing his smile, "Hug...hug..."
"Alright," mumbles Ludwig gruffly, pushing himself off of his chair and walking to where the Italian was leaning against the wall. In his mind, he wonders how and when this began to occur. When exactly he became sucked into Feliciano's crazy philosophies on life and his lackadaisical work ethic. Because having his ever-important reports interrupted is bothering him nowhere near as much as it should.
Feliciano leaps to his feet happily, and bounds forwards, enveloping his German counterpart in a surprisingly tight hug.
Ludwig doesn't stiffen like he used to, doesn't growl roughly and push the man away. And, once again, he amazes himself when he melts into the embrace, and wraps his arms around the smaller man, holding him gently to his chest.
Feliciano pulls back, the usual bright smile on his face. He leans up on his tippy toes and presses his lips lightly to Ludwig's. Ludwig immediately blushes and stiffens, and he hears the Italian giggle in front of him.
"Ve~ Ludwig gives the best hugs! Thank you!" chirps Feliciano, his hands clasped behinds his back and his face and entire form glowing with happiness.
Ludwig's entire face heats up, and he finds himself shuffling back to his desk awkwardly, hiding his face with a cough as he attempts to once again immerse himself in his reports. No sooner has Ludwig sat down in his chair before the Italian has thrown himself into his lap, his arms wrapped around the German's torso and his head nestled snugly in the crook between Ludwig's shoulder and neck.
"F-Feliciano!" splutters Ludwig indignantly. Feliciano looks up at him, and beams his bright smile of pure Italian sunshine.
"Ve~ I haven't seen Ludwig in so long!" comments Feliciano with a pout. "I've been super, super busy, and this meeting has been no fun! There's never any time to ourselves! And I have to fly back home to meet with the Pope tomorrow! Ve~ No time!"
Ludwig flinches, and his entire body stiffens.
There are many things about Feliciano that he does not understand. He appreciates all of them, and he loves all of them, but they astound and confuse him nonetheless. The most prevalent of those things is how Feliciano can love him, another man, when he is a devout Catholic. When the most homophobic people in the world live in the heart of his country. The fact that the Italian meets frequently with the Pope. He leaves the morning after spending a night with Ludwig to meet with the leader of the Catholic religious community…
"Feliciano…" begins Ludwig hesitantly, stiffening under the Italian's weight. Feliciano stiffens as well, and the carefree expression fades from his face, leaving and uncharacteristic blank, emotionless one.
Without warning, Ludwig is assaulted with a deep, open-mouthed kiss. He makes a startled noise in response and moves to push his lover away, only to find Feliciano has withdrawn as quickly as he attacked.
"Ve~ I know what Ludwig is thinking," comments Feliciano with a knowing smile, "And he needs to stop thinking it."
Ludwig freezes, and his face colours again. How can such a ditzy man be so perceptive?
"Ludwig~" coos Feliciano, placing his hands on the blonde man's cheeks and smiling down at him, shifting his body so that his knees are straddling the German's hips. Ludwig flushes. Feliciano's eyes are open, and the gorgeous amber colour is staring straight into his own blue ones. The usual glaze is gone from his face, and instead, the Italian has a look of profound contentness and knowledge.
"Ludwig, despite the beliefs of my country's religion, I am not concerned over what the church deems as appropriate in a relationship," states Feliciano. Ludwig is again, astounded by how light and airy Feliciano's voice is, despite the seriousness of the topic. Feliciano giggles, apparently amused by his boyfriend's open-mouthed expression, before shifting and continuing his monologue.
"Ludwig, I don't care if the Bible and the Bishops and the Pope say I'm going to hell. I love Ludwig, and Ludwig loves me, and we're living in right now. Right now we love each other, and in the past we loved each other, and in the future we'll love each other. That is how we are living. That is how I choose to live. I don't want to live my life tentatively and within strict rules because I fear the afterlife. I'd rather live for now, for this moment. Because Ludwig,"
Feliciano tilts his head to the side, his smile brighter and wider than ever as he leans forward and presses his forehead to the German's.
"Why worry about reaching paradise, if your Heaven is already on Earth? Live for today. Live for now. That's what I do. That's what we all should do. That's what Ludwig should do."
Ludwig is stunned, and watches in awe as Feliciano hops off of his lap, doing a little twirl as he skips across the room. The brunette turns his head to look over his shoulder, the same sunny smile lighting up his face, lighting up the room.
Because no matter how many years, how many decades, pass by, Feliciano will never cease to amaze Ludwig. The Italian's lifestyle is surreal, like something out of a fairytale. A life fueled by unquenchable optimism and a deeper understanding of the world than anyone gives the Italian credit for.
Italy Veneciano lives for every moment, for a life that is more than just getting by and fearing the beyond, and Germany considers himself the luckiest man in the world for being able to share it with him.
It's finally time for the meeting.
Today's meeting is scheduled to start at 12:00. A time chosen to respect nations that might have been suffering from jet lag or other such afflictions. In reality, it is used as time for friends and lovers to reunite and spend some time together before the 12-hour meeting that will threaten to suck out their very souls.
By 11:50, most of the countries have assembled. They have not yet assumed the semblance of order or decorum, and are still milling around, interacting, giggling to one another. Lovers are spending the last moments before they'll have to assume their political façade, and sweet, if somewhat awkward moments, are prevalent.
China, blushing a deep red, is being led around the room in some semblance of a waltz, with Korea deaf to his cries for release as he tightens his hold around the older nation's waist and dips him to the ground whilst kissing his nose tenderly.
Spain has, against all odds, managed to get Romano to cuddle with him, in front of everyone, and the Italian is currently sitting in between Spain's legs with his back pressed against the older man's chest, their hands intertwined as the Spaniard tenderly brings Romano's hand to his lips and kisses it.
America is obnoxiously belting out some rock song, twiddling his fingers as he plays some imaginary guitar, England- shockingly enough- at his side, draped over his shoulder and crooning some sweet melody into the younger man's ear.
It is these scenes, and others similar, that Germany and Italy walk in on.
Germany (predicatably) is flabbergasted by the sight. The relationships aren't new, nor is the lack of order before a meeting, but never has he seen it so…so…flagrant. China is too uptight and old-fashioned to dance in public. Romano refuses to show affection in front of others. England would sooner die then sing a duet with America in front of the world.
Germany can only stare.
"What are they…?"
"Ve~ ," Germany turns to the Italian at his side, his eyebrow raised questioningly. Italy beams up at him.
"They're living for today. For this moment. For each other. See, Ludwig? Everyone's doing it."
The reason I wanted to do Italy for this chapter was because of the Catholic church. I also wanted to address the homophobia in WW2 Germany, but I couldn't fit it in. :(
So, yeah. I hate this chapter. And it hates me too. The two of us just couldn't get along. It did not want to be written, I was impatient to get it written. It was quite stressful, and I think we're both glad to be parting ways. I don't think it's as good as the others, and it's probably flipping me the finger right now. I'd try and rewrite it if I wasn't so sure it would end up worse.
Alas, this is the last chapter. It's been really fun, and I quite love this story. I've had some truly amazing and inspiring reviews, and I want to tell you all that I love you with all my heart and wish to glomp you. You made several of my days. X3
So, reviews for last chapter please? I'll try and reply to these ones!
xoxo, natcat5 ;p