Title: After All This Time

Pairings: Holy Roman Empire/Italy, Germany/Italy

The Holy Roman Empire returns to Italy's life, and he wants them to be together. It's Italy's dream come true, but Italy's dream, turns into Germany's worst nightmare...

"Hey Germany what do you want me to make you for dinner?"



"Nein, but I know you'll make some anyway so go ahead." Germany said with a slight smirk, going back to his crossword puzzle, tapping the pen against the side of his chin as he pondered over the questions, "...country known as the country of copper..." he mused softly over the small blank boxes.

"Zambia." the German looked up curiously, Italy gave him a sweet little smile as he filled a pan with water, "...that's the answer."

Germany glanced back at his paper, counting the little blank boxes, "Ja, it is..." he mused softly looking up with a bemused smile, "How'd you know that?"

Italy shrugged, switching on the hob, "I just knew...what do you want with your pasta?" he asked, skipping over to the tall, silver refrigerator, tugging open the door.

"You pick Italy, I really don't mind." Germany said softly, writing in the letters for Zambia down the line in his crossword, still with that slightly confused look on his face. How the dim, clueless, away with the fairies Italian was able to have such general knowledge had always befuddled the German. Contrary to popular belief Italy was actually incredibly intelligent, yet for some reason always seemed to hide it...or all of his intelligence was just thrown out the window whenever he was faced with danger, and just ran for the hills, screaming at the top of his lungs with a white flag wafting high above his head.

"Okay, we'll have prawns!" Italy announced happily, pulling out a bag of the pink crustaceans, tossing them onto the counter, "...you like prawns right Germany?" he asked, kicking the refrigerator door close.

Germany nodded, pushing the newspaper to one side as he gave up; it was too fascinating watching Italy cook for him to concentrate on any crossword. The Italian just had some sort of built in natural instinct to cooking, the German knew it wasn't difficult to make pasta, heck he'd made it himself a few times when Italy was staying over at his house. But for some reason the Italian's pasta was always amazing, he'd add all sorts of ingredients and spices to the sauce, stuff the German himself had all neatly organised in a spice rack at home yet would never actually touch, let alone use in any food he prepared.

When Italy was finally done the German found himself once again sat opposite the Italian, enjoying the most delicious pasta he'd ever eaten...although he'd been saying that every evening for the last few days now. Germany took a sip of beer, briefly catching the Italian's eyes from across the table, who beamed over at him with his usual cheery grin; the German couldn't help but smile back. His former ally now cherished friend never failed to drag a smile out of him, no matter how foul a mood Germany was in.

Later that night after the two friends had given up their game of monopoly (Italy had become increasingly upset that he couldn't seem to hold onto any money whilst Germany did nothing but earn more) they head up the spiral stairs of Italy's lavish home to retire for the night. Germany switched on the light of the guest room, about to bid goodnight to Italy when the sight of his neatly made bed made him remember something.

"Oh ja, Italy?"

Italy poked his head back out of his bedroom door, "Sì?"

"I was just wondering, you wouldn't happen to have any spare sheets anywhere would you? I was too hot with that quilt last night."

"Hmm..." Italy mused for a few moments, "Somewhere upstairs, in the airing cupboard probably...do you want me to get them for you?"

"Nein that's okay, I'm sure I'll find them...have a good night Italy." Germany gave the Italian a brief wave before making his way up another flight of stairs to the third floor of his house, looking around curiously as he hadn't ever explored this far into the Italian's house before. The German never really had the chance, this was the first time he'd ever actually stayed over at Italy's, back during the war it was always the Italian staying with him, and if the German ever went to see Italy it was only ever brief, never over night.

Now that there wasn't any fighting going on the German could relax and just spend time with Italy as friends, he'd actually been quite delighted when the younger man invited him to stay over for a few weeks, it was like a lovely sunny holiday...what was curious about it though was that their friend Japan wasn't there, Germany was sure Italy would invite him over too. Not that he minded too much, Japan was a good friend but there was no denying that they'd grown apart from him in recent years, however Germany was glad he still had Italy.

Germany stood at the top of the landing, looking around slowly at the long, narrow corridor, two doors to his left, one to the right and one right at the end. The German set off in search of those sheets, the first door he opened on the left seemed to be some sort of music room, a white sheet covered a grand piano sat in the middle of this otherwise empty room. The room next to that seemed to be a storage room of some kind, hundreds of Italy's paintings, most of which were unfinished and abandoned were stacked high against the walls. Germany softly shut the door, eyebrows furrowing in confusion as he glanced around the corridor again, the striped wallpaper bare of any paintings...yet the Italian had so many he could hang.

The only door on his right looked more promising, Germany pulled it open and was glad to find the airing cupboard the Italian had mentioned, yet frowned when it didn't appear to have what he was looking for. The German searched delicately through the towels and shuffled carefully around the socks and shirts piled up but there were no sheets of any kind.

"Interesting..." Germany muttered softly when he pulled himself out of the cupboard, glancing down to the very end of the corridor, to the only room he hadn't tried, "...they must be in there." the German carefully shut the airing cupboard door before slowly making his way down towards it.

The wooden floorboards creaked beneath his feet as the carpet grew thinner the closer he got, the white paint on the door was peeling and the brass handle was badly rusted...the door seemed to have aged separately from everything else in Italy's home. The German tried the handle but it wouldn't open, frowning, he tugged a little harder, the door shuddered but held firmly closed. He glanced around curiously when he spotted a similarly rusted metal key hanging beside the door on a tiny nail. Germany lifted it off the hook, carefully slotting it into the lock he struggled for a few moments until the door was forced open.

Germany wrinkled his nose slightly at the dusty, mouldy smell that stung through his nostrils, slowly stepping into the old room he blinked around slowly at the intense darkness that surrounded him. "There must be a light somewhere..." the German muttered to himself, feeling around for a switch along the wall, fingers grazing the rough bricks beneath his hands before he found what felt like an old fashioned, rounded light switch.

Germany flicked the switch, the light above his head slowly blinking into life, casting a dull glow of light around the room; furniture tightly packed into the space came into view, casting dark shadows at the German's feet. Germany's forehead wrinkled in confusion, there was something so...familiar, about some of the furniture in this room, but not the actual furniture itself, more the style, the colour...as if it had belonged to a certain person the German knew well.

A dark mahogany, intricately carved dresser and piano stool were crammed against the back wall, a thick layer of dust resting on their surface. A tall, ceiling high mirror stood beside him, frame carved with old fashion designs. Germany slowly let his eyes wander around the room, if there were any sheets to be found, they certainly wouldn't be in this old storage room. Just as he was about to head back out, he hesitated slightly when the German spotted a dusted, wooden crate, sat beside the dresser beneath the piano stool. It seemed ridiculous that any sheets would be kept inside, it was far too dusty to have been opened any time recently...or even in the last hundred years or so.

But curiosity was getting the better of him, a quick glance over his shoulder reassured him that Italy was nowhere in sight before Germany quickly crept over to it, knelt down and swiftly tugged the crate out from under the piano stool, brushing his hand over the top of it to wipe away the thick dust. It didn't seem right, whatever was inside might be private...although then again, the Italian wasn't a very private person, so throwing any decency to the wind the German carefully lifted up the lid to see what was inside.

Germany blinked in surprise, whatever he'd been expecting it certainly wasn't what he found. He reached into the crate and lifted out what at first seemed like some sort of dark coloured material, but under closer inspection it appeared to be a child's outfit, a black cape and a circular black cap sat on top. Germany looked at them in his hands curiously before placing it down at his knees, reaching into the crate for the next unusual item...a push broom?

The German carefully lifted it out, half the bristles falling out in a heap on his lap, the broom was tiny, it looked like it belonged to a child. Placing it down beside the clothes be pulled out the last two things in the crates, two paintings stacked together, one was a quite badly done painting of a pink bunny rabbit, all splodgy and childishly painted, it must have been done long before Italy's talent for art was established. The second was much more life like, a painting of a small child fast asleep, Germany squinted slightly, holding it up under the dim light to see who it was supposed to be, he couldn't even work out if it was a boy or a girl.

Chestnut coloured hair, one curl sticking out of the side of the child's head...Germany stared at the painting, mouth hanging open slightly in shock, "I-Italy?" he whispered softly, bringing the painting closer to him. The German had never seen what the Italian looked like as a child...why was he wearing a dress?

But perhaps the most surprising thing of all was how neatly organised the crate was, Italy's belongings were nearly always stuffed into draws, piled mismatched into cupboards...but everything in the crate had been carefully aligned together, delicately placed side by side...it was so unlike him.

"...Germany what are you doing?" the German jumped violently, spinning around on his knees to see Italy standing in the doorway, holding onto a pile of sheets, "Is...is that..." the Italian slowly stepped over to him, eyes fixated on the contents of his beloved crate, emptied at the German's feet.

Germany bit his lip awkwardly, quickly gathering everything together, shoving it back into the crate, "...ja, urm, I was just looking for those sheets but I guess you already found some."

Germany stumbled back on his knees in surprise as the Italian suddenly pushed him to one side, kneeling down by the crate he carefully and delicately rearranged the contents back to the way they had been before the German had dishevelled them. The German watched him carefully, slightly confused by the way Italy's eyes seemed to be getting brighter, mouth pressed tightly together as he slotted the lid back onto the crate, sliding it back under the piano stool, "...get out of here." the Italian said, softly yet sharply, focusing his eyes intently on the crate still in his hands.

The German swallowed slightly, Italy never took that kind of tone with him, "...Italy, are you okay?"

Italy threw the sheets into the German's arms, "...just get out of here Germany, please."

Germany slowly got to his feet, hesitating slightly before he hurried from the dark room, making his way as quickly as possible back down the stairs, letting himself into the spare room, leaning back against the closed door, his heart hammering nervously. What had he done? Italy had looked so upset, but not like he had done whilst losing monopoly...it was much deeper than that.

After a few minutes of silence the German's ears pricked up at the sound of Italy making his way back down stairs, letting himself into his own room next door. Germany took a deep breath, dropped the sheets onto his bed before stepping out into the corridor, cautiously following the Italian into his room. He found the younger man stood by his dresser, fingering the buttons on his jacket, as if getting undressed, but he kept undoing and redoing the same button over and over again. Germany bit his lip, softly knocking on the open door, "...urm...Italy?"

Italy didn't look up, "...what?"

"I...I wanted to apologise, I didn't mean to invade your privacy Italy, I just thought...maybe the sheets would be in there..." he trailed off softly,

rubbing the back of his neck, "...I didn't mean to upset you."

Italy shrugged slightly, still focusing on his button, "...okay."

Germany slowly shuffled over to him, wondering if he should attempt to make the Italian feel better physically somehow. His arms raised up momentarily as if going to hug him before letting them drop to his sides, "...I...I didn't know you wore dresses as a child." the German joked feebly, remembering reading somewhere that laughter was always the best medicine.

Italy shrugged again, "Hungary thought I'd look cute in them."

Germany nodded slowly, "...ja, she is a strange one...although you also wore a cape, I saw...you still have it."

Italy's fingers stopped moving, yet his eye focus stayed put, "...that wasn't mine." he whispered softly, and his eyes seemed to be growing bright again.

Germany looked at him curiously, knowing he was going to regret asking but couldn't help himself, "...whose was it?"

The German saw Italy's Adam apple bob as he swallowed heavily, bright eyes beginning to brim over with tears, "It was...Holy Roman Empire's..."

Germany's eyebrows knitted together in confusion, he could have sworn he'd heard that name somewhere before, "...he was a friend of yours?"

Italy shook his head, sending a shower of tears down his face, "He...he was my l-love." he let out a slight sob, clamping a hand over his mouth to silence himself.

Germany stared at him, arms wanting to comfort him again but he held back, "...love...you loved a boy?" the German asked softly, he'd always known the Italian was quite effeminate...but he was always flirting with girls.

Italy nodded, biting down hard on his finger to prevent the sound of any sobs escaping him, "I-I loved him so much..."

Germany couldn't take it anymore, he wasn't an emotional guy but it still hurt him to see his friend this way, he gently enveloped the Italian into a hug, rubbing his back soothingly, "...und you don't see him anymore?"

Italy sniffed slightly, shakily wiping his eyes on the back of his hand, "...no he, he d-died..."

"Oh...I'm very sorry Italy." Germany said softly, cursing himself for being so stupid as to ask such a careless question, still holding the emotional young man close.

Italy eventually managed to calm down, his slight sobs being reduced to silent tears that continued to rain down his face as he nuzzled the German's shoulder, "It's okay...it was a long time ago."

"Ja...you knew him as a child then?"

Italy nodded against the German, "Sì...I lived with him in Austria's house."

Germany blinked slowly, putting two and two together, "So...that dresser und the piano...?"

Italy nodded again, "Austria's."

"Did he give you...that boy's clothes und things...as well?"

Italy was silent for a moment, slowly shaking his head, "No...big brother France gave me those, he was...the last person to see him alive..." he whispered, burrowing his face into the German again.

Germany nodded, patting his back gently, "...I'm sorry I went through those things Italy...und brought back these painful memories..." he gently pulled back, using the corner of his sleeve to wipe at the tears still clinging to the Italian's damp cheeks.

Italy managed the tiniest of smiles, "It's okay...you didn't know." he stepped back, taking a few deep breaths to calm himself completely.

Germany smiled awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck, "Right well...danke for the sheets...I'll see you in the morning Italy."

"Goodnight Germany."

"Night Italy." the German hesitated slightly before leaning down and giving him a haste peck on the top of the head, hurrying back to his room before Italy even had time to react. Germany caught sight of himself in the bedroom mirror, scowling slightly at the way his cheeks were tinged pink. He sighed deeply, shedding himself of his clothes, bar his underwear, he crawled into bed, practically sinking into the soft mattress.

Germany let his eyes drift closed, thinking back over what had just happened, what he'd just found out...Italy once loved a boy? The flirtatious, pretty girl obsessed Italian had had feelings for another male? He just couldn't wrap his head around it, but he couldn't help feeling unbelievably bad that he'd brought it up, seeing as this one true love of Italy's had died, and the Italian still wasn't over it, after all this time...

The German's eyes flickered open in surprise as the mattress beneath him shifted. For the first time in years, the Italian had crawled into bed with the German. Germany glanced across at Italy who was already fast asleep, curled up in his bed, the German smiled softly, closing his eyes again he eventually drifted off to sleep alongside his friend, it was just like old times.

Hope you're liking

Side note: Don't get me wrong, I fully support the theory- hell it's not even a theory, it's just fact- that HRE is Germany, but for the purposes of this story they're different people

Reviews are love :)