Characters: Italy + Germany, and mentions of Mussolini and Romano
Warnings: Implied death. And while it's not really a warning, since I do ship these two and I know a ton of other people do as well, I feel like I ought to say: Germany being completely unsympathetic and rather mean-spirited towards Italy.
Summary: Italy suddenly finds himself in an intolerable situation, and Germany can't figure out what he's making such a fuss about.
A/N: Re: Mussolini's 1945 attempt to flee from Salò to Switzerland, which ended in his capture and death by Italian partisans.
It is on a gently sloping hill, crowned with grass that sighs to and fro in the wind and with some sort of red flowers, that Germany finds him. Italy. He’s always lying around in places like this, on a hill with flowers or at some little café or by the seaside, and half of the time he has that damn lute with him– playing and singing the day away in that oddly melodic voice as if he hasn’t even one responsibility or care.
No surprise that he is sitting outside on a day such as today; it is a beautiful day late in April; Germany hasn’t seen a day like this (it’s always nicer around Italy’s house, isn’t it? At least, as far as the weather goes...) in a long time.
A beautiful day, yes– but this will be the last meeting.
There is no singing today, and Italy’s lute lies silent and somehow awkward in his hands. Germany says nothing, but he stands in front of him and watches as he intermittently settles the instrument more securely in his arms and plucks at the strings, maybe manages to play a few notes before his shoulders slump again and he lets the lute fall back into his lap as though it would take tremendous effort to do anything more than that. (At which Germany scowls inwardly and thinks, So lazy!)
“It’s already finished, isn’t it? Salò?” Italy wonders aloud– very quietly, for once– after a while.
“Of course. So you’ll be going, then,” Germany decides. It’s not a question; why should it be a question? Romano has already declared war on him, after all, and there’s no use in denying that Romano might as well be the real Italy now. “It doesn’t matter to me.”
“D-don’t hurt me, okay, Germany, don’t; I don’t have any choice; I have to...” he trails off and rubs at his eyes.
“...My boss is gone, you know,” he starts again, sounding more pathetic than Germany has heard in a long time.
He looks up suddenly and in this awful tone of hope asks, “You don’t have him with you, do you?”
“He ran away, and I don’t know where he is; I can’t find him, and I don’t know what to do. Germany, I don’t–! It wasn’t supposed to be like this!”
He runs his fingers across the lute strings anxiously, as though they are something terrible, something that might suddenly bite; he picks at them and bites his lip. He wasn’t made for this, Germany realizes, but he also wasn’t made to be ruined; he’ll have to do something soon. However, Germany cannot help but think that it is far too late now no matter what he does.
This really is the last time, and that’s the way it is.
“Romano says he’s disowning me, that’s how angry he is. He says I’ve ruined everything! And that he doesn’t even want to look at me anymore. Romano says...”
Italy swallows– hard, and Germany can see the soft skin of his throat move– and lets his lute drop; he has only just realized something and doesn’t yet have the words for it yet, so he continues in a hoarse whisper, “He says, he says, It has to stop somewhere. He says, If you don’t do something about it, then you damn well know I will and you won’t like it. He thinks–”
What Romano thinks remains a mystery, because just then Italy starts to cry– with abandon; he just lets his arms fall to the side and turns his face downward and begins to wail, crying and crying. Germany cannot remember ever having cried.
“So, my boss, I suppose that next time I see him... I will find him. And Germany, Germany, you’re always making me carry all this stuff around with me...”
And Italy pulls his pack out from behind the rock he’s sitting on and begins riffling through it, yanking out maps and pocket knives and all other sorts of things and flinging them around at random (Germany narrowly dodges a compass) until he finally straightens up with a length of rope in his hands.
–And he twists it, and he grimaces, and mutters, “And so I always carry all this with me, ever since you told me to, I carry it all the time, so when I meet him... I’ll know what to do.”
“All right,” says Germany, and he shrugs, because why not? and everything is already falling apart and he doesn’t honestly think he cares what Italy does anymore anyway....
Italy lifts his face then and fixes him with this look– almost a pleading look– and says, “But I don’t– But I can’t–”
“You can if you want. It’s not as if it were difficult...” he trails off. “I don’t know what you want from me.”
He looks like he wants help, but he doesn’t actually ask for it, and as far as Germany is concerned, if he wants something that badly he can at least have the courtesy to not expect others to read his mind, and anyway...
“...And anyway, you’ve just told me you don’t want to be my ally now; what sort of favors do you really expect?”
“Be quiet. I should have you shot; you can consider it a favor enough that I don’t.”
All that does is make Italy start crying again. Germany starts to turn his head, because this is almost too sad even to watch, but he looks back in time to watch as Italy buries his head in the crook of his arm and bends forward then draws his knees up to his chest (and Germany isn’t sure what all the excitement is about; trust Italy to get so worked up...); then after a while he straightens and picks up the lute, which had fallen among the grass and the little red flowers, and gives it an unhappy look.
“What is it?”
“The thing is, I don’t know if I can... Germany, I’ve never, never...” he sniffs and grabs the length of rope again, pulls it taut; then he does that gulping thing again and brushes his fingers against his throat, and they stay there for a long time before he lets them fall back to the rope.
That’s when Germany finally realizes, and once he does so it is so strangely funny that he can’t help himself: he laughs, just a little, and then a little more, because it’s so absurd as to be almost unbelievable.
Can it really be that Italy has never killed before?
(He thinks back as far as he can, and strange as it is... No, he cannot think of a single instance; Italy has always hung back and let him... He had always just assumed, or perhaps he had never thought about it at all....)
“I can’t help you,” he decides at last, shaking his head all the while. “You’re on your own now. At any rate, I have work to do...”
And he’s about to turn and walk away, but then another thought strikes him and he pries Italy’s fingers from the rope.
“Come to think of it, you have work to do as well, don’t you?” he asks with another small laugh. “But you really are behind the times. Don’t you know that it will be much easier to shoot him?”
(For some reason, Italy starts whimpering again at that, and Germany sighs inwardly.)
“Well, well” –And this time he does turn, and he does walk away, and as far as he can see there is no reason why he should be back again; and the rope lies still and strong in Italy’s lap but somehow, there’s a feeling as if somewhere a very thin string were about to break–
-- Aaaand... this entire fic seriously only exists because Italy confuses me as a character, because while historical canon says that pretty much everyone has a lot of blood on their hands, I can't imagine Italy as he's portrayed in Hetalia intentionally hurting someone, much less killing them. And so I was puzzling over that. And then there was this.
-- Italy proper switched sides and declared war on Germany in October of 1943; I thought that it made sense for that to be Romano's doing given that he's not overly fond of Germany anyway. Having two Italys (Italies?) is kind of useful, isn't it?
-- Btw, Italy's not being unreasonable in thinking that Mussolini might be with Germany; when he was found he was trying to escape notice by disguising himself as a retreating German soldier. For some unknown reason that makes me lol really hard. :/
-- Although I agree with Italy that hanging has much more dramatic flair, Mussolini and his mistress were executed by firing squad. (And apparently their bodies were later hung upside down from meat hooks. Which is a little O.o)
-- Italy's dialogue was really hard to write! I feel like I must have screwed up on it terribly, but I'm not sure what would have fixed it....
-- Also, I'm horribly sorry for any historical fail; please point any out to me if you see it. God, writing for Hetalia is more nerve-wracking than I expected.