Chapter 7

Lovino had been huddled under his covers for most of the day before once he'd returned from school, so he didn't see how today would be much different. His pillow was damp and salty from all the tears he'd cried into it, as much as he hated to admit it, unmanly and shameful as it was. His sobs were frequently interspersed with violent swearing against Antonio, even though he really meant none of it. He hadn't realised before now how much Antonio's presence allowed him to actually be noticed. It was a depressing thought, that only the Spaniard stopped him from being a wallflower.

He was musing upon whether to delete the photos of him and Antonio from his phone (feeling in a particularly sour mood right then) when the doorbell rang. Lovino scowled bitterly and rolled over. He was not going to open the door. His grandfather had gone out, and, as far as Lovino was concerned, no one was in.

However, it appeared the person at the door was either stupid or stubborn. Probably a mixture of both. Then his phone began playing Le Mille Bolle Blu.

He grabbed it, growling in annoyance, and glared at the caller ID. Antonio, naturally. He blinked, frowning, as the doorbell began ringing again, and this time the visitor refused to lift his finger from it. Lovino answered his phone, barely daring to breathe, and heard Antonio's voice.

"Lovi? Amor, open the door! We need to talk!"

Lovino hung up and pulled the quilt over his head, his suspicions confirmed. He was not opening the door, he was not seeing Antonio and he was not talking to him. Never mind the guilt that was chewing as his stomach. Never mind the overwhelming need to be held in Antonio's lean, strong arms, to be surrounded by the scent of spice and tomato leaves and Antonio.

Cazzo.

.

Antonio finally gave up ringing the bell when the Vargas' neighbour poked her head out of the window and glared at him. With a sigh, he slid down the front door and huddled on the doorstep, his schoolbag tucked against his side. It was getting gradually chillier, and he tugged his jacket closer around him.

It started to rain. He sneezed and rubbed at his frozen nose, the tips of his trainers getting wet from the drips that fell from the roof of the tiny porch.

But he refused to go anywhere. He wasn't going to until Lovino agreed to hear him out and accept his apology. He understood where he'd been wrong, he even understood why Lovino's reaction had been so disproportionate. He knew Lovino's abandonment issues. He'd thought they'd gotten over them together, but obviously they hadn't.

He pulled out his phone, flicking through the photos he had of Lovino on there. Most of them were of the Italian boy asleep: on a book, on a bench, tucked up in bed. Lovino was so cute with his habit of sleeping everywhere and anywhere so easily, just like a cat (or the narcoleptic Greek, Herakles). He smiled when he got to his favourite, which was also his wallpaper: Francis had taken it when they'd been on a long bus ride back from the beach together last summer. Lovino, tired out, had simply fallen asleep on his shoulder, and Antonio hadn't been able to resist simply closing his eyes and resting his head of Lovino's. They'd smelt of sand, salt water and happy exhaustion, and Francis had described them as adorable. He'd sent the photo to Antonio the next time they'd seen each other. The Spaniard had even printed it out and framed it, hanging it on the wall. He loved to simply gaze at it, remembering how much fun they had had. The ice cream, the swimming, Gilbert being buried in the sand…

He sniffled, rubbing at his nose again, and not because of a sneeze this time. He hated Lovi not talking to him. He hated not being with him. Lovi was his everything. He'd vowed to himself they would stay together forever, because he couldn't conceive anyone taking Lovino's place in his heart. He wasn't going to give up without a fight.

He looked up at a sudden, sunny bout of singing coming from down the road. He recognised the deep, perfect tenor of Headmaster Vargas.

"When the moon hits your eye

Like a big pizza pie

That's amore!

When the world seems to shine

Like you've had too much wine

That's amore!"

Antonio gave a watery chuckle and got to his feet, feeling damp and groggy, but a little cheered by Headmaster Vargas's merry singing. There was only one person the man could be singing about, someone who he'd probably dropped off at the Beilschmidt residence. It didn't come as a surprise when Feliciano's voice joined in.

They both stopped when they saw Antonio at the door, and Headmaster Vargas sighed.

"Hola," Antonio mumbled, offering a small, reluctant wave. Feliciano waved back, and they all huddled under the porch as Headmaster Vargas opened the door. Feliciano rushed in, complaining about his wet shoes, and left Antonio under the porch with his grandfather.

"You want to see Lovi, of course, hm?" said the old man with a ghost of a smile. Antonio nodded mutely.

"I thought so. You can stay for dinner, too. And you need to get changed. I'm sure some of Ludwig's clothes will fit."

Antonio thanked him with a wide grateful smile. Headmaster Vargas sighed.

"Don't try that with me, figliolo," he said wearily. "I can see through it a mile off. He's in his room."

Antonio's face fell from the smile he couldn't hold, and he nodded. Heading up the stairs and down the dim corridor to Lovino's room. He knocked gently, licking his lips, and listened.

"Vaffanculo, Nonno! E se sei Feliciano, vaffanculo doppiamente!"

Antonio's eyes closed in pain. He could hear the quiver in Lovino's voice, how full of unhappiness it was.

"You should go in."

Antonio turned a little, enough to see Feliciano standing there, holding a pair of wet trousers. The youngest Vargas nodded encouragingly with a slight smile, before heading to his own room. Antonio turned back to door, staring at it as if it held so many answers, before reaching for the doorknob and turning it.

Lovino was in bed, face down. All that could be seen was his brown hair, sticking out from the covers that he'd cocooned himself in. Antonio sighed and crossed the few steps to the bed, sitting on the edge.

"Feli, ti ho detto di – "

Lovino stopped dead mid-sentence, staring at the Spaniard on his bed as if he had two heads. Antonio tried to offer him a smile, but he couldn't manage it.

"Ciao, Lovi," he said.

Lovino's face went from shock to fury in record time.

"What the fuck do you want? Get the fuck away from me!"

He shoved at Antonio, who fell to the floor without much fight. That shocked Lovino for a moment, but he soon regained his anger.

"Come to gloat about you and that bitch, huh?" he snarled. Antonio shook his head.

"I came to say sorry," Antonio mumbled. Lovino snorted derisively, now sitting up and glaring down at the other boy.

"Sorry for what? Preferring her over me? Well, it's only natural. No one wants me. Not Nonno, not my parents. I was stupid to expect you'd be different."

Antonio looked up at Lovino, horrified. He saw the tears in the other boy's eyes and he scrambled up to the bed.

"No, Lovi, no! It's not like that!"

He tried to put his arms around him, but Lovino fought him off, sobbing openly now.

"I hate that I'm only worth something when you're there! I hate that and I hate you!"

Antonio flinched, pulling his arms away. It was quiet except for Lovino's broken sobs.

"Lovino, it took me forever to get you to trust me," he murmured eventually. "It took me forever to get you to open up and really believe in me and what I feel for you."

He reached up a tentative hand to cup Lovino's cheek.

"It took me forever to see that smile of yours. You think I would throw all that away for her? I only want you, Lovino. Only you, no one else. And I love you so much, I love you for you. I love all your swearing and your fire. And I always will. I would never stop loving you, not for anything in the world."

Lovino glanced up, a split second, enough to allow Antonio to see how badly Lovino needed to believe him. This time, when he went to wrap his arms around the other boy, Lovino didn't resist.

"It's not you that's only worth something with me," Antonio muttered. "It's me that's only worth something with you."

"D-don't be an idiot," Lovino said, his voice muffled, sniffing and wiping his face on Antonio's shoulder. "I never try to show you how much you mean to me, do I?"

Antonio kissed the side of his head, holding him as close as possible.

"Shhh, I don't need reassuring."

Lovino struggled away, glaring. The fire was damp, but it seemed to be flaring up again.

"Shut up, idiot! You mean so much it hurts!"

He reached up and pulled the Spanish boy down for a sloppy, wet and painfully sincere kiss.

"Ti amo," Lovino mumbled when he pulled back, sniffing. Antonio chuckled.

"Yo tambien," he replied, pulling Lovino back against him.

"Dinner's ready!" Feliciano called through the door in a sing-song voice, skipping back down the hallway and stairs to the kitchen, where Romulus was setting the table.

"Are they back together again?" he asked. Feliciano nodded happily.

"Antonio was so sweet! He was all, 'I love you, Lovi, mi amor!' and Lovi was all 'shut up, Antonio, you're an idiot, because I love you too!' and then they smooched!" He aided his retelling with different voices for his brother and Antonio and kissing sound effects.

"I didn't say that, you moron!" Lovino snapped, sitting at the table and glowering at his younger brother. Feliciano giggled.

"It was something like that!" he said airily, making Romulus laugh heartily as he served the pasta.

.

He hadn't slept well again. He kept bumping into people and mumbling apologies left, right and centre. It was downright frightening to Francis.

"What's wrong?" Francis demanded before class started, leaning on Raymond's empty desk, but Gilbert shook his head.

"Nothin'."

Francis snorted. "If it was nothing, you would not be like this, fool! Now spit it out!"

As if an answer, a textbook and notebook were dumped in front of Gilbert, slapping the desk harshly.

"You forgot them," said Roderich, his voice like ice. Gilbert didn't even look up. In fact, he seemed to try to make himself smaller, and first for the German. Francis stared from one to the other, jaw hanging open. The Austrian turned and went back to his own desk, sitting down neatly and getting the books needed for biology out of his bag.

"What happened?" Francis asked. Erzsébet actually turned around to listen.

"Nothing, I told you," Gilbert muttered, tugging his paraphernalia towards him.

"Gilbert – "

"For fuck's sake, drop it!" Gilbert snapped, giving his friend and a furious glare. Francis winced.

"Fine…" he mumbled, sounding offended, and headed over to his own desk.

Erzsébet pressed her hand to her mouth in worry, tearing her eyes from Francis and looking at Roderich instead. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. What the hell could have happened?

.

"Roddy?"

Roderich looked up, giving Erzsébet an empty look. Break had just started, and everyone else was outside looking for their friends.

"Yes?"

She began fiddling with a lock of hair nervously, chewing her lip. "Did you and Gilbert… f-fight?"

"I'd rather not talk about it," said the Austrian stiffly, putting his books back in his bag with jerky motions.

"O-ok… If you need any help – "

"Erzsébet, my dear, your 'help' only ever seems to make things worse," Roderich said coldly. Erzsébet flinched and nodded.

"Um, I'll just go. I'm sorry."

She didn't see Roderich bury his face in his arms as she left.

Feliks was hovering outside, looking worried.

"Girl, I just, like, saw Gilbert… He was totally depressed!"

Erzsébet shook her head, sniffling. "Why do I only ever seem to make things worse, Feliks?" she asked sadly. Feliks hugged her, patting her on the back.

"Don't worry, things will turn out alright," he said. Thing was, even he himself wasn't so convinced of this.

.

Translations:

Le Mille Bolle Blu is a song sung by Mina, an Italian singer. It's pretty cute.

Cazzo: fuck.

Figliolo: son.

Vaffanculo, Nonno! E se sei Feliciano, vaffanculo doppiamente: Fuck off, Granddad! And if that's you, Feliciano, double fuck off!

Feli, ti ho detto di: Feli, I told you to

Ti amo: I love you.

Yo tambien: me too.