"My little Italy," she says softly, her eyes dark and shining with unspent tears. "My precious Italy."
He loses himself in her embrace, clenching the frills of her nightgown in his tiny fists, his small body curled into a sobbing mass in her arms.
The whole house will mourn tomorrow. Their master will not be coming back.
Austria's gaze is locked on the floor, his brow furrowed in frustration. He meets Hungary's eyes for a moment and she nods. He turns on his heel and leaves the room.
Hungary sits in her rocking chair and tilts back, stroking the child's hair as they rock. The moon and a single candle light the room in a shadowy glow. The candlelight flickers uncertainly against Italy's miserable frame. Hungary lets her eyelids close, pressing Italy to her chest.
"My Italy," she repeats, unable to say more. She is well acquainted with war and its casualties, and only basic female instinct has let her come this far.
He cries to her, words of lost promises and agony spilling from his lips, and she knows. Not terribly close to the Holy Roman Empire on a personal level, she feels more pain from Italy's anguish than from his sweetheart's death. She runs a hand up and down his back, murmuring nothings of a different kind of sweetness in his ear, kissing him gently on the forehead, on the cheeks, kisses away his tears that have beaten a path for more.
"He promised he'd come back," the child rambles. "He promised, Hungary. He promised and he took my panties and he promised. What am I going to do without him, Hungary? He promised,"
Hungary's eyes snap open at that and ever so softly, a tiny smile blooms on her lips. It was so wrong to smile, but oh, Italy had such a sweet, sweet heart, and she cannot not help it. She may not be an expert in the field of comfort, but if there is anything she has learned about from the years spent under the Holy Roman Empire's roof, it is love.
"My Italy," she murmurs, "I will tell you the truth. Your heart will hurt for a long, long time time. You may never forget your feelings for your friend. But," she brushes away his auburn bangs and strokes his cheeks, "he has given you a beautiful gift. You know the feeling of love. And one day, you will meet someone else- hush, don't argue, I know exactly what I'm talking about- and once you do, you will know the feeling. You will never be able to forget the pain and happiness of love. You will never be able to mistake it."
He sniffles and wraps his small arms around her neck. "I..."
"But for now," she interrupts softly into his hair, "you can wish him back to you."
Within an hour the candle dies. He falls asleep wet-cheeked and red-eyed in her arms to the sound of Chopin playing long into the night.
Inspiration? Eating dark chocolate with my two-year-old brother.
This will be a fic in three parts. I apologize to HRE lovers, but I will not be incorporating him into a Germany-is-HRE storyline (ever). Furthermore, reviews would be wonderful!