Hetalia - Axis Powers Fan Fiction ❯ Memories of Old ❯ Chapter 4: Chinks in the Armor ( Chapter 4 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
The scene changed again, only this time, it was snowing outside.
“Felice! Bundle up! Don't want you catching cold, out there. Your brother might be fine, but we don't want you getting sick!” Mom said, handing out a coat to a 7-year-old Feliciano. Romano and I paled at this memory.
“Getting sick? What is that about?” Germany asked, confused.
I flinched, grabbing onto Romano a little tighter. He sighed. “Honestly, if they didn't reject you when they found out we aren't full nations, they won't reject you because of this. I'll tell them mine, too, okay?” He asked me, placing his hand gently on my head, as I hesitantly nodded.
“Tell us what, aru?” China asked, suspicious.
“About the weakness… the chink in the armor…” I muttered.
“We both have one fatal flaw in our nation hood… in our immortality.” Romano stated, making many of the nations blanch.
“A flaw? In your immortality?!” America gasped, unable to comprehend it.
“Si. It's the only way around our immortality. I'm weak against poisons and venoms. If I'm poisoned badly enough, or bitten by something with strong enough venom, I will die. And I won't come back.” Romano said heavily, causing many nations to gasp. The concept of permanent death is foreign to most nations, at least, in regards to another nation.
“Mine is illness. I can get sick, like a human. And I can die from sickness, like a human. When I was little, before I fully connected with my nation, I was a very sickly child. My immune system was pathetically low. After connecting with my nation, it went up to an average Italian's immune system strength. Just know that I, like my brother, have this one weakness.” I said, still clinging to Romano with a vice-like grip.
“Itary-kun… We will never use this against you.” Japan said as the other nations nodded their agreement. My eyes went wide, traveling from nation to nation.
“You… don't hate me?” I asked, surprised.
“Why would we hate you?” Prussia asked, appearing offended.
“I… I'm not like you… I'm not a full nation… I can die like a human… I can get sick like a human, and become frail and weak… well, weaker.”
“Aiyaa! Is that what you're worried about, aru?! If you get sick, come to me or Japan, aru! We'll fix you right up!” China said as Japan nodded his head with a soft smile.
“Ja! Und next time you get sick, tell me.” Germany stressed, “I'll cancel training until you're better.” He was already planning to read up on all the medical books he could get his hands on.
“Yeah, dude! And I may not be good with sick stuff, but the doctors in my country are, like, totally awesome! We have state-of-the-art tech here, yo! Come to me, and I'll patch you right up!” America proclaimed.
“Right. Ignore him, and come to my place. A nice cup of tea always calms the body.” England said.
“Non! Don't listen to him!” France shouted, “He'll feed you his crap! Come to moi! I'll treat you to wine and a five-star dinner~”
“I will keep General Winter away while you are sick, Ð”a?” Russia said, smiling.
“I'll make you maple syrup and fresh pancake—”
“ZE AWESOME ME WILL MAKE YOU AWESOMELY BETTER BY BEING IN MY AWESOME PRESENCE! I AM AWESOME!” Prussia cut Canada off.
I smiled, “Grazie...” I was so relieved. They still like me… They don't hate me… I was so terrified that they would reject me when they found out…
“Roma! How could you not tell me this sooner?! What if something happened to you?! You know how many snakes there are at my place! And you'd better stay far away from England's food! We don't want you getting poisoned from it!” Spain said, a grin on his face as England scoffed and muttered how his scones were delectable under his breath. Yeah… Right. Delectable to fungi and mold, maybe…
“Don't call me Roma…” Romano growled at Spain, but Spain ignored it as usual. I winced a bit. Ve… Touchy topic…
“Lovi~!” Feliciano's voice called, drawing all of our attention back to the source of everything… the memory. Feliciano was seen running out into the freshly fallen snow towards Lovino.
“Aww, crap.” Romano muttered under his breath, wanting to apologize to me, but knowing that I would only glare and say he was already forgiven.
“Let's play together~! Do you want to play, Lovi? Loviiiiiii~ Lovinoooo~ Loooooviiiiiii~” Feliciano kept calling, until Lovino finally turned away from his snowman to send a death glare at his little brother.
“Boys!” Emma called, her voice holding a no-nonsense tone that only mothers could truly master. “No fighting. Play nice. Felice, don't annoy your brother. Vino, don't murder your brother. I'm going to start some lunch. I'm making stew!”
“STEW!” The boys cried out together in excitement, before Lovino turned to glare daggers at his brother, while Feliciano smiled. Emma sighed and went inside, keeping an ear out for them from the kitchen.
“Lovi~! Play~!” Feliciano pressed, his cheeks rosy, and an excited look on his face.
“Shut up!” Lovino yelled, picking up a handful of snow and compacting it with his hands before throwing it at Feliciano.
Feliciano didn't seem to realize the malicious intent in the throw, and believed his brother to be starting a game with him. “Throw snow at each other? That's kind of weird, but whatever!” He muttered to himself, creating a snowball and throwing it with devastating accuracy, hitting Lovino dead in the face.
Lovino paused, as if trying to register what his brother just did. He slowly turned, looking quite a bit like Russia, and glared. “You're dead!” He whispered, not wanting his mother to hear him.
Feliciano, recognizing the real danger he was in, dived away as he was bombarded with snow. Lovino somehow even threw the head of his snowman at him—which was twice the size of the child, at least.
Feliciano, laughing and enjoying the `game', was quick to retaliate. He hid behind trees and bushes, and hid among the snowdrifts to bombard his older brother with snow from all angles. The snowman forgotten, an epic snowball fight began.
Before long, both brothers built walls and forts, each one using war tactics that they instinctively knew as nations, and implemented them with frightening precision. The nations couldn't help but be impressed—whenever it looked like one brother would get ahead, the other would counter the attack with a creative strategy. It honestly started looking like less like a child's snowball fight, and more like a snowball fight one would expect trained military adults to carry out.
“Mon Cher~! This looks fun~! Let's try it sometime, oui?” France asked, looking more and more excited. At least, until one of Lovino's oddly shaped snowballs hit Feliciano in the arm.
“OW! No fair! You're using ice-balls!” Feliciano complained. The nations winced, knowing how much it hurt.
“Romano!” Spain admonished.
“Oi! I was just trying to win… And kill him…” Romano admitted. I just laughed. “I started using ice-balls in retaliation, I believe?” I said, making a few nations stare at me in surprise.
Sure enough, Feliciano started using ice-balls as well. It turned into a snowball/ice-ball all-out warzone. Sometimes rocks and sticks could be seen flying across the battlefield, either aimed at the opposing force, or at their walls and forts in an attempt to knock them down. Feliciano was grinning and laughing. Every time he tried to hide, Lovino found him because he couldn't contain his giggles. Even Lovino seemed to be enjoying himself, and was smiling freely, openly, with great joy. He, too, was laughing ecstatically.
Lovino threw a particularly hard ice-ball at Feliciano, hitting him right in the head. Feliciano fell to the ground, breathless and tired from running around in the snow.
The snow game stopped. Feliciano didn't retaliate… He didn't get up. Lovino, taking the opportunity presented, bombarded his brother with snow and ice. A few rocks were tossed in, too. When, after all that, Feliciano still didn't get up, Lovino felt that something was wrong.
The nations were quiet. The light, fun, playful atmosphere that was there just moments before, was suddenly gone. They felt something heavy settle in the bottom of their stomachs. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
“Oi! Jackass! Stop playing around! If this is a trick to get me, I swear I'm gonna pound you into mulch!” Lovino threatened, approaching Feliciano cautiously.
Feliciano didn't even twitch. When they got closer, they saw that Feliciano had a nosebleed, and looked flushed. He was wheezing, and seemed to be unable to get enough oxygen into his system.
“Oi! Idiot! Stop playing around! Get up!” Lovino yelled, kicking Feliciano's leg. No reaction.
Romano was very pale, by this point. He clearly remembered the feeling of terror that spread through his system. Seeing me like that… There was that feeling… that I would disappear and never return.
Feliciano then started coughing. It was a terrible, wet hacking cough. He covered his mouth with his hand, but when the coughing resided, he didn't have the strength to keep his hand up anymore. It fell to the snow, revealing it to be coated in blood.
The nations couldn't see Feliciano's hand from their angle. But Lovino could. He paled drastically, and shook. “M-MOM!” He cried, sounding absolutely terrified. The nations, now really scared, stepped around Lovino to see what made him freak out so badly.
“No…” China whispered, seeing the blood staining the snow crimson. It was leaking from Feliciano's nose and mouth, and dripping from his pale hand. He may not have been able to identify it exactly, but he knew it was likely fatal. Whatever it was, Feliciano's chances of survival in that day and age were slim to none. The nations all seemed to realize this on some level.
“V-Vino… I'm scared…” Feliciano wheezed out, barely able to speak above a whisper. Perhaps, by some form of cruelty, a large, dark bruise blossomed visibly on Feliciano's head, right where Lovino's ice-ball had hit him just moments earlier.
“F-Felice…” Lovino said, using Feliciano's human name for the first time.
Emma, hearing the panic in her son's voice, ran out in a worry. Upon seeing her youngest lying in the snow, with blood on his face, she ran out, and swooped him up in her arms.
Hours later—though only minutes to the nations—the doctor finished examining Feliciano. He turned to Emma—and Lovino by default. The nations waited with baited breath hoping that he'd be okay. They knew that I was still there—that somehow, I'd managed to survive—but they were also terrified. They'd just learned that I could die permanently by illness, and here my younger self was, looking like he was on death's door.
“I'm sorry. There's been an epidemic sweeping the country lately… Your son's just one of the unlucky ones. He has a day at most.” The doctor said, packing up to leave. “There's nothing I can do. I'll call the undertaker and have him make a casket for you, free of charge. I know money's tight for you, Emma…” Emma looked heartbroken; she started crying.
The nations froze. Hearing that offer, for the doctor to have a casket made for me? It terrified the nations, and really hit home for some of them. They realized just how real the possibility of my death was. Many of them went very pale.
“Hey… Hey! Stop crying! He's a nation! He'll be fine!” Lovino said, but he didn't seem convinced of his own words. “He's not sick… He can't be sick… He… he's a nation… like me…” Lovino looked so lost and alone and hurt.
I hugged my brother tighter, to remind him that I was still here.
“Vino…” Feliciano's weak voice came from the sickbed. Lovino's head whipped up, as Emma smiled slightly.
“I'll go make us something warm to drink.” She said, leaving the room to hide her pain.
“You… You can't die! You're a nation! So get better already!”
“Vino.” Feliciano said again, stressing the name. “We both know that…” He stopped to catch his breath. He seemed so tired, and so weak. He looked to be in great pain, as well, with a very high fever.
“If I was a full nation… I wouldn't get sick… You can feel it, can't you? I'm going to die. I'm going to die, and I won't come back. I'm going to disappear before our nation even comes into existence… I wonder… are there others like us? Don't let my death get you down, Vino… Just… live, please… Live for me, or for mom… Live for us, and make new friends. Please?” Feliciano panted, the monologue taking his breath from him again.
“N-no… You… you can't die!” Lovino finally exploded, pounding his fists on the bed, causing it and Feliciano to rock dangerously, and Feliciano to wince. Lovino immediately stopped, seeing the wince, and looked at his hands with horror.
“I… I always wanted you to die… to make me whole, like I was supposed to be… But I don't want you to die, now… I …” Lovino stopped, fighting his tears, as he grabbed his brother's hand. “I WANT YOU TO LIVE!” He screamed, letting the tears flow at last, a particularly thick and heavy tear, falling on Feliciano's hand, the area glowing a soft emerald as it dissolved into the skin. This time, we, the nations saw it—Lovino's First Tear.
“I don't want you to die anymore! You're my fratellino! My little brother! You're all I have! I don't want you to leave me alone! Please! I need to protect you! I need you to be there for me! I need you to live! Please, Felice! Please…” He sobbed brokenly, “I don't want you to leave me alone… please… don't leave me… Ti voglio bene…” He whispered, crying into his brother's chest, being careful not to put too much weight on him.
Our Romano was also crying, grasping onto me with a death hold. His tears were staining my shirt, but I didn't care. I wrapped him in a hug.
“Shhh, shhh… Vino, I'm here… Vino. I'm still here.” I reminded him softly, humming our mother's lullaby into his ear as I rocked him slightly.
“Vino…” Feliciano whispered in shock, before smiling. “Ti voglio bene, fratellone.”
I smiled, that was the first time we called each other fratellone and fratellino… That was also the first time we told each other that we loved one another. Romano was silently crying into my chest now, as I continued to hum to him, and rub his back with one hand, and run my fingers through his hair with my other… Just like momma used to. The nations had respectfully turned away from us to give us as much privacy as they could.
“I'll try, fratello… Just don't hate me if I can't.” Feliciano whispered.
“Idiota! I could never hate you… not anymore…” Lovino whispered brokenly, crawling into bed to snuggle with his fratellino.
For the first time since their birth, the two brothers looked completely content in each other's presence. They lay together that night, sleeping as one. A whole, for the first time in their lives.
When morning came, the doctor returned. Again, like with Emma, he declared that Feliciano was pulling off a miracle, and was on the slow, long road to recovery. The nations let out a sigh of relief, as Lovino and Emma cried in joy. Feliciano slept peacefully with a gentle smile on his face, refusing, even in sleep, to relinquish his grasp on his fratellone.