A/N: My other computer is broken, which is the only reason why I haven't updated 'In the Shadow of Albion' yet. I really need to invest in a USB device, seriously...*shakes head in shame*
Title: If the Devil Wrote Poetry
Pairing(s): Ludwig/Feliciano; includes Antonio/Romano, Roderich/Elizabeta, one-sided Francis/Feliciano, etc...
Length: Actually, I don't foresee this one taking more than a couple of chapters (five more at the most, maybe?). It was supposed to be a one-shot, but then it grew longer than I could handle editing in one sitting.
Warnings: AU, swearing, a smidgen of violence, and, of course, a little smex. Also, Ludwig might come off as a bit of a jerk in the beginning (but that's because he doesn't have his loveable Italian to humble him, yet—and besides, growing up with Gilbert is bound to rub off on a guy, even if only by a little) ;)
Translations: Because I am, most certainly, not a pro at this, I'll be posting what I assume are the correct translations at the bottom of the page. If you're a native speaker (or just an autodidact linguist), please feel free to tell me if I've made any mistakes.
Disclaimer: No matter how much I wish otherwise, Hetalia is not mine...
Summary: (AU) To avoid an invasion from the Beilschmidt Empire, old Roma Vargas proposes a marriage between the families to keep the peace. Ludwig accepts. Feliciano, on the other hand...
"...That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard."
Roma shrugged and slumped a little further into his throne, trying—and failing—to ignore his firecracker of grandson as the young man began yet another diatribe. What he could he possibly say in his defence? It was the best he could do, given the circumstances...
"Oi!" Romano had seen idiocy in finest form before, but this had to take the cake. "You married me off to King Carriedo to avoid the same ordeal, or don't you remember? And why the Beilschmidt family, eh? All I've heard for the last three years is 'Bonnefoy this' and 'Bonnefoy that'—I thought you were worried about him invading, huh, and not this Beilschmidt fellow?"
"Beilschmidt's father was a reasonable man! But I'm not getting any younger, and now that that Gilbert's the emperor there's no telling what that family will do."
"What they'll do? How about what I'll do, huh? If he does so much as think about invading us, I'll shove my boot so far up his potato-loving—"
"Romano," the man tsked. "Inside voices, please."
"Inside voices? ...Inside voices? Do you honestly think—?"
"Romano, please." He had been powerful once; had been renowned for his military success—feared, in fact, for what he could, and would, do to his enemies should they ever set a toe out of line—but that was the old days, and though his face tended to betray his age, well...he was certainly starting to feel old, and weaker, perhaps, even though he didn't have the heart to tell his grandsons yet. "Gilbert himself is already married. It's his brother that we're talking about here, and Ludwig's not too bad."
"He's a Beilschmidt," Romano snapped. "And besides, I'm pretty sure that idiot brother of mine doesn't even understand what 'sex' is yet. You just can't leave that bambino to the mercy of that...that beast."
"That 'beast' is going to be your brother-in-law. At least give him a chance."
Romano went beet-red in a half-second split, but no eruption was forthcoming. He opened his mouth, gapped for a moment as though he couldn't think of anything else to say, and then abruptly turned about face to storm out of the throne room.
Roma flinched as the door slammed shut behind him.
He could already tell that this wasn't going to end happily.
Gilbert had many ideas. Many, many ideas, in fact, though Ludwig would argue that about only a handful of them deserved to ever see the light of day. There were some things that came out of his brother's mouth that would've been better off left unsaid, such as the carriage that didn't require horses, and a box that cooked food without a fire—but those were merely gibberish in comparison to what his brother had in store for him today.
"I like children," Ludwig confessed, trying hard to wrap his mind around the logic of his brother's proposal, "but I don't believe that a man such as myself has any business being a father."
Leaning back a little, Gilbert propped his feet up on top of his desk and crossed his hands behind his head. And then he smiled, one of those charming little curls of the lip that meant trouble for all parties involved. "No problem, kiddo—little Feliciano is a prince."
All right...Ludwig was okay with that, but there was yet another matter that had to be taken into consideration and that was the question of Gilbert's ever present thirst for power. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but...weren't you adamant about invading them only last week?"
"About that," Scratching his chin, Gilbert's smile wavered a little. But only a little. Gilbert was an optimist in the oddest sense of the word. "Antonio's married to the eldest kid, so he asked me not to do anything drastic. Then King Roma mentioned that he had another grandson, so I did a little reconnaissance, and, like, whoa, talk about beautiful—no joke, Ludi—and, I'm pretty sure he sleeps in the nude...Perfect, right?"
Ludwig had to disagree with the man's cursorily evaluation of the prince's overall worth, but he already knew that finding someone agreeable to settle down with was really just a question of mind over matter. His parents weren't really all that in love with one another and yet they had done well enough for themselves as a couple. And since Feliciano would be marrying him to save his kingdom, Ludwig failed to see how this wouldn't work... Actually, it might be nice having someone to talk to—not that he was lonely, of course, but if they were going to be intimate with one another, there was really no reason he couldn't share what was on his mind either—
Not that this Feliciano had to chat with him (—Ludwig was well aware that not everyone was interested in talking about politics or whatnot, least of all his dearly departed mother, who, in fact, deplored anything that had to do with his father's work—), but Ludwig was certainly open to having a light conversation with his future spouse in the evening. It might even be nice. After all, there was still the chance that they might actually like each other...
Gilbert blinked. "You'll do it?"
"Ja. When do we meet?"
"Well..." Kicking his legs off the desk and using the momentum to rock himself forward, Gilbert leaned against the desktop with his elbows and steepled his fingers curiously under his chin, managing to look every bit the little rascal he'd been for as long as Ludwig could remember. "Roma's already handed the kid over, so I suppose we could drop by tomorrow. Until then, I guess you should just sit tight."
Nodding, Ludwig glanced at the door out of the corner of his eye. He still had all those reports to go through and he hadn't had the chance to eat yet, so...
"You won't regret this," Gilbert chuckled, watching Ludwig as he rose from his seat. "One look and you'll be head over heels for this kid."
"And what do you suppose he'll think of me?"
Gilbert gaped for a moment. Then he grinned. "That you're the sweetest guy in the world...?"
Ludwig snorted derisively and made his way toward the door.
He'd believe it after the 'I do's.
Feliciano was, for all intents and purposes, still a child—very much so, in fact—and Romano was willing to bet both his kidneys that the little bambino still didn't understand why people slept in the nude together, other than to avoid dying of heat exhaustion. So as soon as he burst out of the throne room, he went about the tedious task of tearing the palace apart looking for him, only to discover that Feliciano wasn't anywhere in the near vicinity and wouldn't be until tomorrow morning.
So Romano snapped at anyone within earshot and stormed up and down his brother's halls until Antonio dragged him away for supper. And then, at the crack of dawn, he returned to Feliciano's suite to brood in the sitting room until he heard the servants rushing to the main entrance to bid the young prince welcome, at which point Romano stomped after them to give Feliciano the 'what's for' and waited, rather impatiently, for his little brother to show his stupid little face.
He was effectively neutralized, however, the second Feliciano stepped through the door, throwing both of his arms around Romano's neck with a shout of unadulterated joy and squeezing the mother-loving breath out of him without so much as a 'how-do-you-do'.Romano bore with it, because, one, he wasn't about to hit his brother when he already had to deliver bad news, and, two, he wasn't entirely sure he could hit Feliciano, at least at this proximity.
Good Lord, he hated those hugs...
"I have bad news," he gasped, just as soon as he could breathe again.
Feliciano merely smiled at him and patted his cheek gently as he was wont to do whenever Romano greeted him. Then he blew a kiss to the old maid as he trounced down the hall to his bedroom. "It's good to see you too, Romano!"
"Are you even listening to me?" He snapped. "This is serious business, you little bastard. Nonno is trying to get rid of you."
"You're always so mean to me," Feliciano pouted, but the smile he flashed at Romano over his shoulder betrayed his genuine mirth. It was hard to get Feli in a bad mood—harder still to tell him the world was crumbling all around him.
Once in the safety of his bedroom, Feliciano dove onto the bed, face first, and burrowed himself under the mountain of pillows. Romano sat down beside him after closing the door, and pinched what he supposed was the boy's arm when he suspected Feliciano had already fallen asleep.
"Oi—I thought I told you to listen?"
"You didn't," Feliciano replied, though his voice was muted by the pillows. After a moment he resurfaced, smiling benignly at Romano as he tried to fix his hair. "So, what's new?"
"Marriage," Romano grumbled. Then he slapped Feliciano's hand away when the boy moved to pat his arm affectionately. "Not mine, stupido... I'm talking about yours."
Feliciano opened his mouth to reply...and then he closed it, as though he couldn't remember what he wanted to say. Chances were, he probably had no idea what to say. Period. "You've been eating enough lately, Romano?"
"Yes, but that isn't the point. The point is you've been betrothed to Prince Hedwig, or whatever, of the Beilschmidt family."
"...Like you were?"
"...Is he nice?"
Romano rolled his eyes. "Hell if I know...Probably not. His older brother is a total ass."
"Unfortunately. The moron's friends with Antonio, so I can't exactly ignore him."
"And what happens if I don't?" Feliciano murmured. " 'Get married', I mean."
"Too late. Nonno already handed you over."
Feliciano's eyes went as wide as saucers—Romano would've been tempted to laugh if he wasn't in such a dour mood already. "But if he isn't nice, I don't want to marry him!"
"No!" Feliciano snapped (it frightened Romano...just a little), and then he grabbed Romano's arm, giving it a desperate shake. "Nonno won't make me if I ask him, right?"
Oh, ha. That was actually kind of funny. "Nonno's hands are kind of tied right now. If the moron had invested more time and effort in keeping up his army after dad died, we wouldn't be in this situation, but I digress...I suggest you run."
Feliciano stared at him blankly for a moment. "...Run?"
"Because the Beilschmidt's are cruel bastards that don't allow afternoon naps, and because you obviously aren't old enough to get married yet, so, yeah, run. If you start now, you just might make it out of the city before those potato-freaks get here, but I'm only guessing, because I don't know when—"
That was about as far as he got before Feliciano was out the door.
And then he heard the horn going off in the courtyard to announce the stupid Beilschmidts' arrival, and, well, maybe he was a little satisfied with how everything was progressing, because, hey, it was the Beilschmidts after all...
...and maybe Feliciano deserved to fall in love like he did.
(—as if he'd ever tell Antonio that. Yeah, right...)
Gilbert was right.
Roma really didn't age.
At first, Ludwig thought it was the late king that sat before them in the throne room—then he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him, because, well...yeah.
It was kind of creepy.
"So you're...'Ludwig'?" the man in question murmured, appraising the fair-haired duo from his perch on the throne. Ludwig knew the king approved of the betrothal, but he had a sinking suspicion that maybe the old man was still a little over protective of his youngest grandson—and maybe, just maybe, he was starting to have second thoughts...
Too late for that, Ludwig thought sardonically. He'd already accepted.
"Jawhol, Majestät." He paused here to bow, well aware that Gilbert was probably trying very hard not to roll his eyes as he followed his lead. "Ich heiße Ludwig."
"How old are you?" the man inquired, and this happened to be a question Ludwig was familiar with, at least when he was standing next to Gilbert. It usually threw people for a loop when trying to figure out which one of them was the eldest, simply because Ludwig was taller than his brother.
"Twenty-seven," Gilbert replied for him.
In the corner of his eye, a messenger shifted his weight anxiously from one foot to the other.
"Feliciano has just become of age..." Roma frowned, more so in concern than disappointment, but even so, Ludwig didn't like where this was going. "We really haven't prepared him for marriage yet. So, perhaps—"
"I don't have impossible expectations," Ludwig interrupted before the man could take that particular line of thought any further. And really, he didn't. Feliciano just had stand by his side in public and keep his mouth shut, maybe smile a little and make himself agreeable with anyone Ludwig wanted to introduce himself to, and that was pretty much it. Other than what transpired in the bedroom, he assumed he wasn't asking for anything the boy couldn't do already. It was all very simple, really.
"That's...nice... But I understand you're a busy man, Herr Beilschmidt, so perhaps we could al—"
"Oh, for the love of—" Gilbert threw his arms up into the air, the way he usually did when his battle plans weren't going exactly as planned He was an impatient man, even at the best of times. "—consider yourself lucky we're going through with this at all, Roma, because if Ludi doesn't marry your grandson, I'm going to marry him off to some countess Carriedo keeps yapping about, and since Ludi doesn't want to have kids that's going to present yet another problem for us. Now, where the heck is Feliciano, because that nut of a woman, Elizabeta, has already got the whole ceremony planned out for the end of the week and I'd like to drag him back with us before anyone else gets cold feet. You think you can handle that?"
"Perfectly," Roma replied dryly.
Inclining his head toward the wary messenger, the weary old king waved his hand for him to step forward. "Tell Bonifacia to pack Feliciano's things, and then fetch the boy for me, please."
"I..." The man took off his hat, its ridiculously long feather tickling his knees as he worried the rim anxiously between his fingers. "I mean...well..."
"He's gone, Your Majesty." The messenger shrank back a little, glancing nervously between Ludwig and Gilbert as soon as the words left his mouth. "He ran away—just fifteen minutes ago, actually..."
A/N: Love it? Hate it? Can't decide? No worries, darlings. Drop me a note if you have a chance, but this fic is going to get finished anyway. I just thought you might like to come along for the ride...
Translations: (Or what I'm guessing they must be. Please correct me if I'm wrong.)
'Bambino' ~ 'baby (m)' (Italian)
'Nonno' ~ 'grandfather' (Italian)
'Stupido' ~ 'stupid' (Italian)
'Jawhol, Majestät' ~ 'yes, your majesty' (German—at least, I think that's how it's supposed to be)
'Ich heiße Ludwig' ~ 'my name is Ludwig' (German)
'Herr' ~ 'sir/mister' (German)
'Scheiße.' ~ 'shit' (German)