Well, it's official; my first Hetalia fic! ENJOY!

Everyone thought Italy was worthless, and they weren't afraid to vocalize it.

Of course, no one really felt guilty about making fun of Italy, whether it was to his face or behind his back. They thought he was too stupid to understand.

But Italy wasn't stupid; in fact, he was quite brilliant. However, the first time he met Germany, he let his fear of bigger, stronger countries take over. He wailed, and screamed, and acted like an overall ditz. Apparently, first impressions really are important, because ever since then, everyone had labeled Italy as the country to always surrender, the country who became frightened at the mere sight of someone bigger than him…the country who was worthless.

When Italy caught wind of all of the comments, his little heart just broke. He had expected it from France (definitely France) but…America? England? Sometimes even…Germany?

So, he played along. He acted like a brainless fool around the other countries, and found himself slightly amused by their comments. While they were the ones talking about how Italy was a nitwit, there they were, not even aware that Italy was playing them for fools.

It was only behind closed that Italy dropped the façade. His voice became its normal pitch, not as low as his brother, Romano's, but not as high as the falsetto everyone else heard. He often liked to read about Galileo and his discoveries and theories, and took joy in reading epic novels involving the heroes he wished the other countries saw him as.

Another thing he loved to do was create art; he would write, sculpt, sketch, paint…he especially loved painting. His brush strokes were long and passionate, but sometimes short and sweet when details were called for. His paintings were, in a word, beautiful. They often depicted peaceful meadows, places he created in his mind to act as his safe place, a place where he could go when his tears just wouldn't cease their flowing.

When he moved in with Germany, he always kept his room locked and made it clear to Germany that it was off-limits. All he had gotten was a strange look from his tall companion…his extremely attractive companion…

No, Feliciano, he internally scolded himself. He's been mean to you as well. And he's just a friend, no matter how much you might love him…

Italy shook those thoughts away as he continued to paint, surrounded by his past paintings on the walls and open books lying on the floor, ones he hadn't yet finished and yet started on while he still had to finish other books. He was currently painting an Italian town, the buildings tall and robust-looking. In the background, the sky was a beautiful cerulean blue, the sun shining and reflecting off of a lake in the distance.

He was so into his painting that he didn't realize that someone was approaching his bedroom.

"Italy, Japan has invited us to-" Germany stopped abruptly as he took in the room; many large, open books were strewn across the soft carpet, notes hastily scrawled into the margins. More notes, longer than most essays, and many poems were in a messy pile on Italy's desk.

The more shocking things were the many works of art strewn across the room. A tall sculpture that Germany couldn't quite figure out (it was still beautiful, though) was placed next to Italy's bed, which was covered with full sketchbooks and loose charcoal sketches. Germany guessed this was why Italy always slept in his bed. His wide eyes continued to scan the room, taking in the paintings hanging on the walls. The more of them he saw, the harder Germany was finding it to breathe. They were just…stunning.

And then his eyes fell on Italy, and his breath left him all together.

His beautiful golden-brown eyes were wide with surprise, his mouth slightly hanging open. His slender fingers were clutching a stained paintbrush that was half-hovering in front of the canvas, the painting nearly complete. His hair fell perfectly in front of his eyes, making Germany just want to reach out and brush it away. There were smudges of paint on Italy's jaw, and Germany wasn't sure why, but it was extremely attractive. And, of course, it was only then that Germany realized that Italy actually had muscles. He wasn't as beefed-up as Arnold Schwarzenegger, but his arms and chest were perfectly toned, most likely from his sculpting.

"Germany! What are you doing in here? I told you that my room was off-limits!" Italy shouted angrily, forgetting to make his voice high and almost tinny.

"Italy? What happened to your voice?" Germany asked, trying not to stare at Italy's long, long legs as he stood up.

"Oh, um…" he said nervously, running his fingers through his tousled hair. "I was sort of…faking it."

"Faking it? Why?" Germany asked, totally perplexed. Suddenly, a fire burned brightly in Italy's eyes, and he just exploded.

"Because everyone thinks I'm worthless!" he shouted. "Just because I freaked out when I first met you doesn't mean I'm totally incapable of taking care of myself! It was the middle of a war, and I was hiding in a tomato box from a country who was supposedly trying to kill me. Of course, that first impression immediately made all of the other countries see me as a pathetic nation who wasn't worth the time of day. I heard the comments, Ludwig. I heard the stupid ones from America, the stuck-up ones from England, and the innocent ones from Russia…and I even heard the ones from you."

And Germany…well, this wasn't exactly what he was expecting. He was frozen in place, just staring into Italy's blazing eyes and letting him get it all out.

"So, I played along. I became what everyone thought I was. It's like my own little game; I come home and laugh about how I fooled everyone into thinking I was a ditz…and then feel resentful at the comments that would be made. It made me stronger, however, and it only fueled my passion for art. Despite popular belief, Ludwig, I am actually quite intelligent. It's really the other countries who are dimwitted; they couldn't even tell that I was faking it."

Germany couldn't believe it. The Italy in front of him was so different from the Italy he knew. This Italy was smart, he was passionate, he was…hot.

And that's when Germany knew; whether he was high-pitched and idiotic, or intellectual and passionate…Germany was in love with Italy.

"But…it hurts, Ludwig," Italy said, tears pooling in his eyes. "While I get to have my laughs at the other countries' stupidity, I can never get those things they say out of my head. This-" he gestured to his room, his eyes focusing on his art, his books, and his poetry-"is my only release. I come in here and I can just…be me."

And when he was done, the tears finally started leaking out of those beautiful eyes of his and down his cheeks. It was one of the first times Germany had truly seen Italy cry-he wasn't crying out of fake fear, or of something that barely hurt. He was crying because he was heartbroken.

Without even thinking about it, Germany swiftly crossed the room and took Italy in his arms. Italy buried his face into Germany's large shoulder, letting his tears soak the military uniform. Germany rubbed his hands up and down Italy's back, doing what he could to soothe him.

"It's OK, Italy," he said softly, holding the smaller country tightly. "You don't have to pretend anymore."

"Why?" he asked, sniffling slightly. Germany smiled-genuinely smiled-down at him.

"Because," he began to explain. "If any of those other countries even thinks about insulting you, they'll have a grenade up their noses before they can even finish their sentences."

Italy sniffled again, pulling back slightly to look Germany in the eye.

"Why?" he asked, his eyes questioning. Suddenly, their eyes truly met, brown gazing into blue. The world around them slowed, even came to a standstill. The universe could've exploded, World War Three could've begun…hell, Prussia could've come in and began to shout about his supposed awesomeness. They wouldn't have noticed.

All Italy knew was that he and Ludwig were leaning forward slowly until, finally, their lips met.

It was like nothing Italy had ever felt before. Germany's lips were soft and hesitant, so Italy wrapped his arms around his neck to pull him closer so Germany would realize that he wanted it. Germany, in turn, encircled his arms around Italy's waist and brought him closer. The kiss was sweet and loving, everything a kiss should be. Germany pulled back slightly, absolutely breathless. He'd never felt that way before.

"Because…because I love you, Italy," he admitted, feeling a wave of relief wash over him-he was so glad to be able to say it. Italy sighed blissfully, pressing a few kisses to Germany's jaw before moving back to his lips one last time.

"I love you too, Germany."

Germany sighed in relief, reconnecting his and Italy's lips and not intending on stopping anytime soon.

Of course, France is just a big. Freaking. Jerk.

"GERMANY! WHERE ARE YOU, GERMANY!" his voice called out. Germany ignored it, thinking he would just go away when Germany wouldn't answer. Of course, France is a persistent little nation, and burst into Italy's room, immediately going wide-eyed.

"GERMANY! You and Italy?" he asked in shock, his accent already annoying Germany to no end. Germany begrudgingly stopped kissing Italy, turning to France with an angry look in his eye.

"France, why don't you go make out with Canada or something?" Germany groaned, carding his fingers through Italy's tousled locks of chestnut hair, his other hand tightening its grip on Italy's lower back. "Obviously, we're busy."

France laughed, sending chills up Italy's spine (and not the good kind).

"Oh, I see," he said cockily. "You want to have some alone time with this pathetic excuse of a country."

Before Germany could lash out and kick France's cloak-covered ass, Italy stepped forward calmly, looked France straight in the eye…flipped him off, and slammed the door in his face.

He turned quickly around and strode towards his bed, knocking his sketchbooks to the floor before tackling Germany onto it, immediately reconnecting their lips.

Oh yes, Germany had a lot to learn about Italy, and he'd have a lot of time to do it…later.

Italy pulled away slightly, whispering another 'I love you' before the kissing resumed.

Yup, Germany thought. Definitely later.

Well…that happened.

Alright then.