I do not own Hetalia.
This is the second parental Austria, child Italy story I've written. I like to believe that Austria was a good father to Italy. Once again Roderich is a little out of character, but I don't know how to write fluff without softening him up just a bit.
Fluff warning ahead! There is also some AusHun fluff (they're such an adorable couple).
Hope you enjoy!
The sweet melody filled the room. Austria's nimble fingers stroked each key with accuracy and alacrity. Every inch of the precious instrument was engraved in his mind so that even with shut eyes his fingers knew where to land. There were no breaks and no awkward timing, making the after-dinner music a treat for all who listened.
Young Feliciano sat in his usual comfy chair behind Roderich and listened with that ever-present smile. The music danced gracefully into his small ears and gently kissed his eardrums with each note. Those moments caused Feliciano to forget the constant scolding he received from Roderich and instead felt safe and loved. Most were unaware of the soft side of Mr. Austria, but Hungary and Italy both knew that he could be very kind, especially to them.
Roderich was aware that Feliciano preferred the more cheerful melodies so he reserved them for said audience member. With the child being his only listener at the moment, he was more than willing to provide the boy with a smile.
Usually Elizaveta would stand there alongside Roderich, but that morning Hungary was sent in Austria's place to meet with England. Austria was ready for departure that morning when a yellow bird entered through his bedroom window with a letter intended for the house's master. Roderich groaned upon reading the contents that announced Prussia's uninvited arrival that afternoon. Austria was used to Prussia's frequent, unplanned visits, but he did little to mask his frustration, even in front of said nation. At least he had the decency to give some heads up this time.
Hungary placed her hands on Roderich's shoulders while standing behind him, assuring him that she could handle the meeting with England. Austria had no worries about sending Hungary as she had proven time and time again that she was more than capable of taking care of herself.
Unfortunately the conference with England took much longer than expected. Arthur felt it would be ungentlemanly of him to make Hungary head back to her home so late and tired from both travel and their meeting. He offered her one of the many rooms at his house.
With Elizaveta not scheduled to return until the following afternoon, and most of the other servants having already retired for the night, that left only young Italy there to listen to the master musician play. Roderich preferred having audience members and Feliciano was always a delight, as he never failed to offer a few kind words afterwards. After being forced to listen to Gilbert's bragging all afternoon, Roderich needed to hear some encouragement, even if it came from Italy's mouth.
Despite his cold exterior, Roderich was fond of Feliciano. His drab estate had become more lifelike since the young nation arrived. He felt the child had potential from the moment he first heard Italy sing, and once the boy grew a bit older, and gained a longer attention span, he planned on providing him with proper vocal training.
The pianist finished with a hint more passion than he played with for the past half hour. Feliciano bounced in his seat as the last few bars were always his favorite as Roderich always played them with extra force.
The rhythmic clapping of the child's hands gave the Austrian a reason to smile. He erased the smile before turning to face the auburn-haired boy. Italy sat there with a huge grin as he did after every performance.
"That was awesome, Mr. Austria!" Feliciano exclaimed.
Roderich winced at the mention of that word that had been abused by Gilbert's mouth all afternoon. Now all he could think of when hearing that word was Prussia bragging about his recent efforts. No doubt the child picked up that new addition to his vocabulary from that pompous nation. However, there was no reason to chide the Italian for merely complimenting his work. Austria stepped forward and gently pat the boy on the head.
Italy released his trademark, "Ve!" in his usual cheerful manner. The dark-haired nation allowed himself to smile. It was too easy to understand why Hungary, along with half the others on his staff, were so quick to pull the boy into a tight embrace.
Several times Austria was tempted to hug Feliciano himself. However, he had to remain behind that bold, thick, professional line. He already allowed himself to fall in love with Elizaveta, a feeling she shared, but no matter how much he cared for the child, nor how he often thought of Feli as his own daughter (unaware that Feliciano was in fact male), he refused to form any attachments to the little one. So many other nations were interested in Italy and if he ever lost a war, he would lose the boy. The cruel fact was too painful, allowing him to slightly spare his heart by keeping that emotional distance. Feliciano made it difficult by doing and saying genuinely kind things that only made Roderich love him more.
Feliciano clamped his lips together as he felt a yawn forming, the oxygen forced itself inside his tiny body. He slowly let the air out through his nostrils, trying his best not to open his mouth. If Austria saw him yawn he would send him straight to bed.
The Austrian nation lifted an eyebrow at Feliciano's behavior, but remained silent. After all it was normal for Italy to act oddly at times. Roderich slightly turned, his peripheral vision catching the second yawn. Feliciano then rubbed at his eyes.
Taking one look at his pocket watch Roderich said, "I believe it's past your bedtime."
"But I'm not sleepy," Feliciano replied while still dabbing at his obviously exhausted eyes. Italy had spent most of the day cleaning which was bound to take its affect on the little one.
"Don't argue with me, little miss. Now off to your room," Roderich said in his usual stern voice.
Feliciano jumped down from the chair. The hem of the green skirt swayed about his ankles. He knew better than to push his luck with Austria when a command was given.
The Italian walked towards the door then stopped suddenly. He peered out into the dark hallway and a small chill forced its way up his spine. Feliciano slowly turned and stared up at the older nation. His tiny voice became trapped in his throat.
"Italy, did you not hear me?" Roderich asked without making eye contact, having felt a presence standing idly in the doorway.
Feliciano slightly recoiled. He stared harder at Roderich then said in a soft voice, "Mr. Austria...Miss Hungary always puts me to bed."
"I'm sorry, she's not here tonight," he said collecting the sheet music from the piano. He cleared his throat then added, "I'm confident that you know your way to your quarters."
"Yes, Mr. Austria…" Italy said. Austria nodded, hoping that would be all he would hear from the child. Feliciano proved him wrong when he spoke up once more, "But it's not that," he said wringing his hands. Roderich turned to look at the child who was staring down at his feet. The little boy continued to speak, "It's, um…the corridor is so dark. And…and I'm scared of the dark."
Roderich sighed. He now had proof that Hungary was spoiling Italy. He planned on discussing it with her the following evening. Then again, Italy was afraid of numerous things, so it was too believable for him to also have a childish fear of the dark. Either way he was now left alone with an easily frightened country. One look into those pitiful eyes and Roderich's stone heart melted.
Roderich placed the neatly stacked papers on top of the piano and moved forward. In one quick motion he lifted the boy and held him close to his chest as he began the walk towards Italy's bedroom. Italy's small hands clasped onto Austria's jacket collar. As they ascended the staircase, Feliciano nuzzled his head against Roderich's shoulder. The action caused Austria to involuntarily tighten his hold on the younger nation.
Using one hand to keep hold of the child and the other to open the door, Roderich led their way inside. Austria's eyes widened at the messy state of the inside. Italy did well to clean the rest of the house, but his own room looked as though a tornado whipped through. Hearing another yawn from the little nation in his arms, Roderich decided to save the tidiness lecture for another time.
Roderich pried the boy from his arms and placed him on the bed. As he removed Italy's shoes, his thumb accidentally tickled Italy's left sole. A squeal of laughter erupted from the boy as he jerked his foot away rendering Austria surprised at first, then having to suppress the urge to tickle him again.
Spending time with Italy reminded him of how much it hurt that he had to be denied the simple pleasures of raising an adorable offspring of his own, deprived of all the special moments he had witnessed between fathers and their children in his country. For once Austria envied Hungary and the fact that she was allowed to bond with Feliciano on a daily basis, where he had to keep his distance and remain as the strict master over the younger nation.
Austria turned while Feliciano changed into his nightgown. The older nation glanced over the amount of discarded clothes, books, and dishes with specks of crumbs lying about the floor. It surprised him that they had yet to have an infestation of rodents due to Italy's carelessness. First thing in the morning Feliciano would be instructed to clean his quarters.
The sound of Feliciano hopping up on his bed broke Roderich from his thoughts. The latter turned to see the child pulling back the blankets before sliding under them. He rested his head against the fluffy pillow as Austria securely tucked him in as he remembered his own father doing when he was just a small nation. Italy glanced up with those giant, caramel eyes and an even larger smile.
"Goodnight, Italy," Austria said, gently patting the boy on the head.
Italy's eyes slightly shut, the fatigue taking over. Taking that as his cue, Austria headed for the door.
"Wait!" Italy called. Roderich stopped and turned to see what the child wanted now. Italy's smile had transformed into a saddened frown. "You forgot my story."
"What story?" Roderich asked.
Feliciano answered, "Every night Miss Hungary tells me a bedtime story."
Roderich sighed. "Italy, Hungary is not here and I don't know any stories."
"Can't you make one up?" Italy asked.
"No," Austria quickly replied. "Now go to sleep."
"Please," Feliciano said.
"Italy!" shouted Austria, his voice switching to a more serious tone.
A few seconds of silence passed leaving the older nation with the sense that his message got across to the boy. Just as he was about to leave he heard the unmistakable sound of sniffling. That noise was soon followed with a soft sob.
Austria sighed. He was used to hearing Italy cry following the innumerable reprimands towards the boy. Still there was something about sending Feliciano to bed in tears that his conscience would not let him live with.
Feliciano wiped at the falling tears. "I miss Miss Hungary," he said with a heavy sob. After being taken from his family, his home, and everything he knew and loved, the child clung to a simple nighttime tradition with the one other person who went out of her way to make him feel loved and welcome.
Roderich sighed once more then knelt down beside Feliciano. He pushed a few stray auburn hairs from his forehead, causing the young one to look at him.
"Do you miss her too?" Feliciano asked.
Roderich was taken back by the question. He usually would have left the room without bothering to answer such a ludicrous question. However, he found himself wanting to dry Italy's tears.
"Yes," Austria answered. "But she'll be back tomorrow."
"But who's going to tell me my story tonight?" Italy asked. "Miss Hungary said bedtime stories keep the nightmares away."
Roderich lifted an eyebrow at the ridiculous words that just escaped his charge's mouth. However, he assumed it was a normal thought for a child to have. And it was that confession that forced Austria to pull up a chair and scoot close to Italy's bed.
"What kind of stories does Miss Hungary tell you?" Roderich asked.
"She tells me about a strong Hungarian warrior who fought against other warriors and how she always beat up this annoying knight named Gilbert!" Feliciano cheerfully exclaimed.
Austria had to keep from laughing at that statement. It seemed that Elizaveta chose to tell little Italy stories from her own childhood. Yet for some reason that news did not surprise him, as it was Elizaveta herself that never ceased to amaze him. Each day he found himself falling more and more in love with her, ready for whatever surprise she might throw at him.
"Alright," Roderich said. He paused for a few seconds to try and come up with something that would entertain Italy, or at least put him to sleep. Unlike Hungary, he found himself at a loss for words. It was not that he lacked creativity, for he wrote some of the most amazing music that other nations praised eternally, but storytelling was not his forte. Finally he came up with something. Roderich cleared his throat then began the story. "Once upon a time there was a nobleman. He was intelligent, sophisticated, and well-mannered."
"Like you?" Italy asked.
"Yes," he replied. "He heard the news of a young maiden named Elizav…Eliza." Austria slightly blushed at the thought of accidentally inserting Elizaveta's name into the story. "She was strong and caring."
"Like Miss Hungary!" Italy exclaimed.
Roderich nodded. "Yes, like Miss Hungary. She actually looked like her."
"Only not as pretty," Feliciano interrupted. "'Cause no one's as pretty as her."
Austria's cheeks flushed a darker hue of red. He temporarily found himself at a loss for words. Roderich nodded then said, "Yes, you're right." His features became serious and he pointed a finger at Feliciano and scolded, "It is very rude to interrupt someone in the middle of his story."
"I'm sorry," Italy said hanging his head. Hungary always allowed him to add his input during story time. Not wanting Austria to end story time, he complied with the rules.
"As I was saying," Austria continued. "Eliza was a great woman who everyone in the kingdom loved."
"Was the kingdom Austria?" Feliciano asked. Roderich glared at the boy instantly silencing the many questions swimming through his head. "Sorry," Italy muttered.
"Very well," Roderich replied. "The kingdom was Austria. Eliza was not originally from Austria, but she moved there when she was offered a job by the man." Feliciano snuggled further against the pillow. The story was starting to get good. "When he heard how tough she was he knew that he wanted her for his personal bodyguard."
"Wow!" Feliciano exclaimed.
Roderich nodded, forcing himself not to smile at Italy's outburst as it would only encourage him to continue said behavior. The last thing he wanted was for the child to believe he could yell whenever he desired.
Austria continued, "The man's advisor warned him that it was not a good idea to have a woman for a bodyguard."
Feliciano piped up, "What's a adv—a adv…?"
"An advisor?" Roderich asked to which Feliciano nodded. "It's someone who gives someone in power suggestions on what he should do." Italy nodded, satisfied with the answer. Roderich took that as his cue to continue the story. "The advisor told him it wasn't a good idea to have a woman bodyguard. He said it wasn't proper."
"Why not?" Italy asked, tilting his head to the side. Roderich stared at him. "If she's a good bodyguard."
Roderich sighed irately. "Italy, if you keep interrupting, you're going to bed without a story."
At the mention of the threat Italy clamped his hands over his mouth. "I won't interrupt," he mumbled behind his hands.
Roderich continued, "In the kingdom, it wasn't proper for women to take on men's traditional jobs." Feliciano nodded in response to the storyteller's explanation. "The man usually followed tradition, but he knew that Eliza was the best for the position. However, to appease—to make his advisor and everyone else happy—he had her dress up like a servant and pretend to work in his house. It was just a cover that only the two of them knew about." Austria paused to make sure Italy was still listening. "The noble was not sure if Eliza actually liked him, or if she was merely fulfilling her duty. Then one day while Eliza was bringing her employer tea, she heard him playing a most beautiful melody on the piano. She held the dishes against her body as she listened with the happiest smile. She placed the tea tray down on the table and began to dance. The man was so into his music that he never noticed her there. Without meaning to she danced over to the piano and leaned over his shoulder, wrapping her arms around him. He stopped playing and whispered in his ear, 'If that song matches your soul then my heart belongs to the song's creator.'"
Austria stopped speaking. He was suddenly sweating from recalling the first time he realized he was in love with Elizaveta. The smile on her face when she confessed her feelings for him would always be present in his mind. It was then that Austria made sure to show her that he was as sensitive and beautiful as the song his heart created.
"Then what happened?" Feliciano asked with a huge smile and twinkling eyes.
Roderich gently smiled. "He told her that she had inspired him to write that song and how it was his heart's confession of how he felt about her." He paused then added, "He truly loved her. He was thinking of her the whole time and that's why he separated himself from the world while playing. He wanted to be with her." Roderich stopped once more. He felt that was enough for one night.
Just as he was about to say his final goodnight, Feliciano called out. "Then what? Did they get married and live happily ever after?"
What was left of the smile faded away as Austria was reminded of how being a nation meant he had certain responsibilities. Still the look on Italy's face was one of pure delight, something no child should be robbed of. It did get Roderich thinking that he wanted to be with Elizaveta and that perhaps he should act on his feelings for once.
"Yes," Roderich answered. "They were married and had a nice little family. And they all lived happily ever after." The image of himself, Hungary with Italy as their adopted daughter flashed through his mind. Even if it was just a fantasy life, it provided him with happiness.
"Ve!" Italy cheered, followed shortly by a yawn. In a tired voice he said, "That was a good story."
"Now will you go to sleep?" Austria asked.
Italy nodded and cuddled closer to his pillow. Austria leaned forward to fluff Italy's hair one last time. Feliciano smiled and wrapped his small arms around Roderich's neck as he did with Elizaveta after every bedtime story. It took a few seconds for everything to register, but the usually strict nation hugged the child back. Italy was only going to be that age for so long and he would eventually regret it if he denied the boy the embrace.
They soon parted and Italy burrowed into the covers. Roderich pat Feliciano's head then headed for the door.
"Goodnight, Italy," Roderich said before shutting the door.
"Sleep tight, Mr. Austria," Feliciano called from his comfy spot in the bed. Feliciano's eyes shut and he smiled for the "fictional" characters of Austria's story. While he still missed Hungary, Italy had no worries of any nightmares plaguing his slumber.
The end. Wasn't that sweet? I know, Austria is very OOC, but I think every once in a while adorable Italy was able to soften his heart.
I hope you all enjoyed. All reviews, critiques, and criticisms are welcome.
Have a great day everyone!