Just a short little piece I wrote near midnight, because it's been too long since I've posted a Hetalia one-shot, at least for my liking.

Austria really did have beautiful hands.

That Held the World

The notes rang with an eerie kind of precision as Austria played, blending together to create a final product in the form of a pretty song. Prussia didn't know how he did it, really, and even now, as he watched the pale fingers fly across the keys with a frown on his face, it confused him.

The confusion, however, wasn't because he was baffled by how good Austria. Please, that would imply a level of less-awesome that simply wasn't possible with someone of his calibre, because he knew Austria was good, and Austria knew it too, without Prussia having to remind him every few seconds. In fact, he knew the little master inside and out these days, whether or not the priss was even aware of it, because Prussia really was great at being subtle when he wanted to be.

("Prussia, you wouldn't know subtlety if someone nailed it into your skull.")

There was a saying Prussia had read once, some shit about knowing thy enemy or whatever that he had always thought was stupid because who was dumb enough to actually need to be reminded of that? In his opinion, it was common sense that you always had to know your enemies, even better than you knew your own family. You had to know everything about them—their strengths, their weaknesses, their quirks—so that they couldn't surprise you when it mattered.

So Prussia had spent years watching Austria, watching those same, slim fingers of his clutching sceptres that had represented the immense power he had once wielded, all those years ago. Those same hands had once rested on the edges of thrones, both his own and the thrones of others, and just as they had rested they had been held—Spain, France, Portugal, England—throughout all kinds of alliances. And those hands, so light and fleeting, so—weak, girly, deceptive, weakweakweak—had once held almost all Europe in their grasp, seizing power through sheer games and play, and through pretty violet eyes and dark brown hair and pale skin.

But he also remembered those hands, which played instruments so damn tenderly, stained with blood on the battlefield and marred with cuts as they held a sword in their grip. There were no dainty white gloves to cover them there, and Austria, once untouchable, had began to crumble and fall, because he was weak. Behind the marriages and the alliances and the words, he was very weak. And Prussia had been so—very awesomely, of course—strong.

But not strong enough, it seemed, to avoid being pulled into that goddamn orbit Austria seemed to have around him. One way or another, it always came back to the damn priss, even after his empires had crumbled and he was left alone, a shell of the greatness he had once been, at least in terms of sheer political power. Even so, it was hard to catch Austria complaining about it, and watching the way he carried himself and went about his business at times, one still might mistake him for the haughty Habsburg-dominated power.

Sauntering over, Prussia leaned on the edge of the piano, peering intently at Austria as if he were trying to look at him over the rim of invisible spectacles. He knew the precise moment when Austria became aware of him, for though the man's hands didn't falter, there was a slightly change in his breathing patterns, his chest moving less easily now that there was a scrutinising audience. After a few moments, with the last of the notes dying on ivory keys (and the stupid things constantly had to get restored, because ivory turns yellow, you idiot, why did you even insist on having those?), Austria turned to him, reaching up to adjust his glasses with a slightly confused look on his face.

"Prussia," he acknowledged, just in time for Prussia to reach out and snag one of his hands, bringing it to his lips with a triumphant smirk. The former kingdom took smug pleasure in the way Austria's eyebrows raised, and in the flustered look that appeared on his face, even if it only lasted for a scant few seconds.

"My, what lovely hands you have, priss," Prussia said cockily, even as he flipped Austria's hand around, the pale skin on the back resting against the rougher skin of Prussia's palm. He began to trace small patterns in Austria's palm with his finger, grinning savagely when Austria's fingers twitched and curled in slightly, and when he looked back up to meet Austria's eyes the other man was looking at him with an expression of exasperation. Still, Prussia was paying enough attention to notice the brief flash of fondness in his eyes before he rose from the piano bench, his hand still resting in Prussia's even as Prussia curled his fingers into Austria's palm, drawing the aristocratic nation closer.

"Idiot," Austria said, though it lacked bite and conviction, and the way he let Prussia pull him closer showed that he wasn't displeased.

"Yup," Prussia replied, unashamed, even as his hands settled possessively on Austria's hips. "But I'm your idiot. Now let's say we put those hands to better use."

He got a sharp jab to the stomach for his efforts, but even as Austria moved towards the doors, saying something about overseeing some concert or another, Prussia couldn't help but watch his hands as they fluttered at the musician's side, as if they were playing on invisible keys as Austria spoke. Unbidden, Prussia moved towards him again, seizing both of Austria's hands in his this time. Those hands had once held empires, yes; they had once held swords as well, and golden sceptres and orbs of power, but they were empty of those things now, empty of all things but their music and the fascination they inspired in Prussia himself.

But that was all right, Prussia thought, even as he dragged Austria in for a quick kiss, grinning nonchalantly when the other nation rebuked him for presumptuous behaviour. After all, he thought he rather preferred those hands as they were now, pulling the delicate strings controlling every beat of Prussia's erratic heart.