Title: Crimson Skies
Fandom: Hetalia Axis Powers
Genre: Romance/Angst
Pairing: Russia/Canada, with side dishes of US/UK, Germany/N. Italy, Spain/S. Italy, and Prussia/Austria
Rating: M
Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia. If I did, Francis would actually have a French name.

Summary: Ivan's in love! And with Matthew, of all people. Not only will this get him in trouble with Alfred (and Arthur, and Francis), but there's also that little problem about his reputation. How will he convince Matthew of his sudden change of heart, when nearly everybody believes him to be a bloodthirsty lunatic? - Matthew, on the other hand, finds himself attracted to the most unlikely of nations. Is he just crazy, or might there be more to Ivan than meets the eye? Both set out to get some relationship advise from their fellow nations and embark on a journey that will not only lead them halfway across the globe, but also closer to each other...

Part I: Vienna

A black-liveried servant showed Ivan into the large house, just a couple of streets away from the Stephansplatz and right at the center of Vienna. He stepped into a semi-dark hallway that smelled of old wood, wax and freshly cut flowers.

"Master Edelstein is awaiting you in the music room," the servant informed him.

Ivan rolled his eyes, but made sure that the woman would not see it. Of course. Where else would he be?

He followed the servant up a flight of stairs to the first floor, through another hallway and stepped into the indicated room. It was furnished as tastefully and luxuriously as the rest of the house, but the primary piece of furniture was the magnificent grand piano that stood on a raised platform right in the middle of the room.

Roderich was in the midst of playing the third movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Sonata No. 11, his hands dancing across the black and white keys as if they were detached from the rest of his body. He looked happy, but Ivan couldn't tell whether it was because of the cheerfulness the music conveyed, or because Roderich was always happy when he played the piano. Gilbert would have known, he suspected.

At Ivan's entry, he did not turn, but calmly finished playing the piece. Ivan, who was not entirely surprised by this treatment, stood by the door and waited for him to finish, cocking his head slightly and enjoying the music. Even though he was not nearly as obsessed with music as Roderich, he did enjoy a good performance. There were many famous Russian musicians and composers and Ivan had always admired their works.

When Roderich finally turned, he acknowledged Ivan with a slight nod. "Ivan. You are right on time." It sounded faintly surprised.

Ivan shrugged, and it looked as if an earthquake ran through his large body. He was about twice Roderich's size, but the Austrian seemed unperturbed. In fact, he seemed to be one of the few people who did not appear to be uncomfortable around Ivan. He was not overly friendly either, but Ivan preferred indifference to outright hatred or contempt. Fear could be fun, too, but not when you needed to carry on a serious conversation with the person in question.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet me," he said.

"You are welcome." Roderich got up, stretched, then studied him from clear, intelligent eyes. His sharp intellect and his objectivity were two more reasons that had motivated Ivan to choose him for this particular conversation.

"I find myself in a bit of a quandary," he told the Austrian, judging it best to be forthright.

"Oh?" Roderich quirked an inquisitive brow. "Please, take a seat. I should be happy to help you, if it is in my power."

"I'm not sure it is," Ivan replied. "But I come to you for advice, because you are somewhat experienced in those matters."

"What are you referring to?"

Ivan swallowed hard. He had come prepared, but actually talking about his problem to somebody – anybody – was harder than he had imagined it to be.

"Matters of the heart", he said finally.

Roderich seemed even more surprised, but there was also a glint of curiosity in his eyes. "You do surprise me," he said, "Apart from the fact that I'm not sure if you even have a heart – I seem to recall that you had some medical issues there – I never thought that you would lose it to anyone."

"And yet I have," Ivan relied quietly. "Or what's left of it, anyway."

"To a human?" Roderich inquired. It was not unheard of that a nation should fall in love with a human, even though it was always a delicate and usually a tragic matter.

Ivan shook his head.

"Another nation, then," Roderich mused, nodding. "Then it would make sense that you thought of consulting me, since I am one of the few of us who went through two marriages. There have not been that many lasting nation-nation relationships, have there? Let's see – France and England, Lithuania and Poland, Spain and Southern Italy, even though Romano would deny it, if you asked him… maybe Germany and Northern Italy, even though that is rather recent and I'm not sure you could even call it a relationship. And then of course, my marriage to Antonio and Elizaveta, even though the first did not go so well, we are simply too different… everything else has been either one-sided or rather short-lived, I think. So… who is the one you would like to give the remnants of your heart to?"


Roderich frowned. "Excuse me, who? I don't seem to remember a nation that goes by that name."

"Canada," Ivan growled, slightly exasperated. Why was it so hard to remember that name? To him, it was starting to feel like a personal insult that everybody appeared to simply forget Matthew when he was not right in front of them.

"Oh… Alfred's brother, right? Son of Arthur and Francis – what an odd parentage, by the way… but he is so young, Ivan!" Roderich cast him a look laced with worry and disapproval. "Barely more than a child… and such a shy, quiet boy, too. It pains me to tell you this, but I think your attraction is misguided. If anything, you should consider a strong, older nation. Matthew is… well, he is just not right for you."

Ivan fully agreed with that last part, but nevertheless it hurt to hear the words spoken out loud.

"I know," he replied dejectedly, "but I can't help it."

"Hm," Roderich regarded him for a moment longer, then sighed. "Well… this is certainly a bit of interesting news. Let me think about it for a moment or two." He walked back to the piano, sat down and started to run his fingers across the keys. "My first, instinctive advice would be to let it drop and never mention it to anyone else, especially not to Matthew," he said, his back turned to Ivan. "But love can be a very resilient virus, especially, if it is unrequited."

Ivan idly wondered if Roderich himself had some experience in that department. It was not entirely impossible… he had always suspected that there was something more to Roderich's relationship with Gilbert than pranks and bickering.

Roderich began to play, and after half a minute or so, Ivan recognized the piece. It was the Adagio from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

"That music makes me sad," Ivan commented.

"I thought it rather fitting," Roderich replied, still playing, "it reflects the mood."

Ivan pondered that for a moment, before asking: "Yours or mine?"

"Both, I think."

Some Notes:
Stephansplatz: A large square at the center of Vienna.
The music should be self-explanatory. You'll find various renditions of both pieces on youtube. People who regularly read my stories will notice that this is not the first time the Moonlight Sonata makes an appearance. I don't mean to be repetitive, it's just that it is one of my favorite pieces of music.
I hope, you enjoyed this chapter and that it made you curious.
Please review and tell me what you think!