At long last, I'm putting some Hetalia on my profile after eight years of Naruto. Like, holy cow. I am excited.

I am actually more excited to get a different writing/posting the Hetalia project I've wanted to put on my profile for about 2 years, which is a series of interconnected stories about "the life of a nation": how the Hetalia characters lived their homeland's own history, taking part in big historical events that I have researched, (and a few made-up ones), people knowing that they exist and lots of shipping and some talking spirit animals because I fuckin' like that stuff. Alas, that is a huge project (I had wanted to research/do fics for most def China and England, hopefully Austria, Romano...maybe France). And this oneshot idea, long as it is, is still a quicker way to burst onto the Hetalia scene.

Because one other thing I've been aching to write (and something like it maaaay show up in the other stories/series too, as a side-effect of the spirit-animal thing b/c everybody's kinda sorta affiliated with an element in that 'verse) is the idea that Lovino can manipulate fire, and that he is a match for Spain in combat. I always wanted to see that, or just see Conquistador!Spain trying to get Romano in some way. So I'm going to write that! Yes, Lovino the…the firebreather, Lovino the fire-gifted, and let us mix this with Conquistador!Spain. The greedy Spain, the violent Spain, that older version of Antonio Fernandez Carriedo who swings an axe and spills lakes of blood in the name of gold, glory and God.

Let's see how this turns out.


Netturi, southwestern coast of Italy

April, 1578


It was a Saturday, and a day set aside for resting. There were some folk out and about already, shoes and wagon wheels alike clik-clack-ing along the roads outside, and morning winds from the sea floating in from the window he had not cared to close the night prior. There had been a plan to wake at an easy pace this morning and be utterly ignorant of the folk who were already scrambling about at dawn, but one of the Aniello family's sons began squealing from somewhere outside."A dolphin, a dolphin! Look, mother, there's a dolphin out there on the sea!"

Dolphins made an appearance in the bay once in a good while. He could have ignored it, and slept a while longer before rising for the day. But his eyes remained open and stared evenly at the wall a hand's length from his face. The corner of his blanket pushed up against it. Someone shouted outside. And Feliciano came running in the doorway from the other room, and pushed hard at the bedframe. "Lovino…Lovino, wake up! Did you hear little Ennio out there?"

"Yess…what? What is it…?"

"It's not a dolphin, it's—Lovino, get up, it's a ship!"

"It's what? Form where?" The smooth, easy waiting from moments ago melted away, and urgency thrust his blood quick through his veins. He was up and out of the bed before Feliciano could answer or move.

In a flash he was tearing at his bedclothes and reaching for the usual daily workman's tunic that he'd laid out upon the stool yesterday. Feliciano was still fluttering and tripping over his words, looking as though he felt terribly out of place in his own home and ultimately wasting time. Lovino hissed at him. "Well? What sort of flag have they got? Do I need to be out there or no?!"

"It's the flag of Spain…"

This gave him pause, and he stopped with an arm his arm halfway through a dangling sleeve. "Of Spain?"

"Yes! It's the red cross, it's all jagged, and, and…"

He made a half-turn to stare into the other's eyes. Accusingly. "You're making me scramble out of bed on my resting day some Spanish boat sailing in?" The sleeve continued to dangle on one side while its owner lashed out the other in tired frustration. Feliciano did not laugh. "How do you know it's not just the salt merchants? It's probably just the salt merchants! Or their stupid navy just looking for an inn to stay at!"

"It's not any of that. I'm sure."

Rarely was there such solidity in the tittering and childlike voice of Feliciano Vargas. It frightened him. He pushed his right arm fully through the dangling sleeve and snatched his boots from the corner they'd been tossed to last night. "You can't see from our window, but I saw it from Salvi's. Just a minute ago. They have cannons and they're pointing them all at the town and they have open arrow slits!"

"Wh—?!"

"Papa and Old Enzo think it's pirates and their flag is false."

"Pirates…!"

"I'm ready to go, too."

He was. In his flurry of dressing himself, Lovino had hardly noticed that Feliciano was in a state of finished, able dress as well, and wore his strongest his fishing boots, properly laced and tight. It was a dress for fishing, for being out on the bay. "Feli, you don't need to go. I'll find out what they want and deal with them."

"B-But I want to go and help you…" The solidity from before was gone.

"I don't need help, just let me talk to them! Stay on the beach with Papa, you can do that if you want. And you can walk with me on the way down." Courage all drained away, Feli nodded and murmured some mouselike acceptance. They brushed each other's arms walking out close to each other, and Feli remained only one step away from him as he closed the door of their home behind him, and secured the lock.

Outside, the click-clack-ing steps were slightly rising in intensity, and folk were calling to their families and friends to come into their homes, or someone else's home, anywhere away from the beach. Matteo and Roberto were each guiding pregnant wives carefully up the cracked steps set into the steep slope of the opposite street. The horsekeeper's daughter dragged her reluctant gelding uphill towards the stables, both of them yelling with great annoyance. The Aniello family, little Ennio and more in tow, were running as fast as their pack of little children would allow to their home downhill to the next skinny road. Most everyone was making a brisk path for some house or other, or looking around for him. Matteo, who was closest, saw him in an instant.

"Ah, Lovino! Have you seen them down there? The ship?"

"Not yet. I'm heading down to see about them, though. Don't worry." He said. He stepped off, and Feli began to follow him down the road from which Matteo had come.

"Why, never, my good man! Come now, Lucia!"

Their loud calls attracted the attention of the other folk moving about, and some began to wave, and say hello to him as they rushed by. The brothers kept going down.

Netturi was built in the manner of many of the coastal towns in the provinces: structures crawling slowly up and down and along the slope of a hill, leading to a long and warm beach at the very bottom. Their home being closer to the beach than many, it was not a terribly long walk down, and not one minute before enough cottages, and the two smithies, were past that they at last had a wide and uninterrupted view of the beach itself. Lovino stopped walking, and Feli grabbed his arm.

Perfectly placed as a dove's perch, it lay in the center of the bay: a heavy, three-masted nau trailing thick nets from the masts and displaying equally massive white flags emblazoned with jagged red X-shapes on white backgrounds. The highest one hanging near the topmast was ripped in its middle and someone had tied a rope through the gap and hung some swinging object off of it. It sat still and patient in the bay, and at least from the distance at which the town stood, no men could be seen moving on deck. But the canons and open arrow slits Feli spoke of were blatant.

A tighter gripping on his sleeve reminded Lovino that his brother was still holding his arm. "Is it a caravel? It's so big."

It was big. Lovino began shaking—a foolish thing to do, he was supposed to be stopping that, wasn't he?!—and was overtaken by a spout of quick anger: "It's too big to be a caravel, idiot! It's twice that size! Probably a hundred extra men than a caravel's got, too. Are you coming with me or—"

"Lovino! Oh, Lovino—" The brothers turned around together and saw a pale old man feeling his way down the road with a cane. The two of them dashed up to the old man, and held him steady. "Good Lovino." He coughed. "Are you…are you going down to meet them?"

"Yes, Father. Did you come down all the way from the Forte Sangallo?

Feli pushed his head against his sibling's, nearer to the priest's weak field of vision. "Oh, Father, you could have just stayed there! It'll be okay! You'll be back to the books and forgetting that ugly sight before midday, I'm sure!" Here the false smile that Lovino had painted on came apart slightly; it should have been him giving such condolences, but rarely was he the one that managed them.

"I wanted a good look for myself." Father Montalbo said to both of them. "And, well, I've had one. I don't think they are merchants, or visitors. That is the flag of the Spanish naval force. There is no reason for them to be in a town of smallfolk like this, aiming such weaponry at us as that! It—" But the town cobbler came by and took the Father's hands in his, to guide him away to safety. He put his large-veined hands over Lovino's right one before he could be pulled too far away, and added, "Bless you always, good Lovino. Gracious God, may he help you. May he turn these strangers back. Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli, sie santificato il tuo nome—" And the two disappeared.

The streets were quieting, and the ship and its crew still did not seem to move. Lovino gave it all his attention as the slope of the street lessened, and they came near the beach. The ships that Netturi saw were hardly ever of such a size, threatening or no, and even the rare naval visitors did not have the audacity to point their cannons at the town. But it was the size and not the gunnery that reminded him of something: "Feli! Where's Papa? He's not trying to hide in Forte Sangallo, too, is he?"

"He's coming down. He said he'd be down there."

"Well, he's not." He growled, and continued walking. "It doesn't matter. I'll take care of it. We've seen worse around here."

"I know."

They walked down the road, passed the home of the butcher Renato, leaning out his window, who shouted heartily at them. His son leaned out the window, too, staring. They had chosen to stay in their home instead of watch from uphill. Renato's was the final structure of the town, the closest to the sands of the beach. The ground was flat now, and wholly sand, all grass and solid earth behind them. Feli still clutched him arm as they walked, but lighter now. The ship remained still, but at least three men could now be seen moving on deck. They were pulling up the sails, as though in preparation for a stay.

"They're going to come ashore in smaller boats. Arrogant." He muttered.

Feli leaned forward a little and said, "There's just two. No, three! Three boats!"

"The damn dogs are just trying to look intimidating." Lovino scoffed. "Papa's probably right. They're pirates flying a false flag." But he was staring, too. Now it was taking effort to keep his scowl in place.

Feliciano let go of him at last when they stopped a cart-length from the lapping waters. Quieter, he said, "Look at the man in the left boat. That weapon."

He looked, and all but dropped his scowl in astonishment. One of the men—the only one standing, the only one not manning an oar—carried a polexe, the largest he'd ever seen. It was upside-down presently, with the head resting down against the boat and the man resting a boot confidently along the head. The weapon was nearly as long as a man's height, the pole almost as thick around as a fist, and the blade's edges heavily stained to varying shades of deep red. The wielder's smile radiated great pride.

"Mio dio." Feliciano breathed.

"He's not the first to come ashore with a big axe! It's fine!" Lovino hissed at him, and tried to force his words in with a harsh look. "Stop worrying."

But the man's smile was bothersome, more so as he adjusted himself in preparation to step out of the small boat and walk ashore. He held himself up like a cocky lordling from the court, and wore a lordling's coat of fantastic red dye and lined on its edges with black. There was a hat on his head of much the same design with an additional white tail of great volume spilling slightly to one side. At last his rowers brought him close enough for him to walk into the water, and the man did not step out and walk so much as leap out and sail forward. He walked like a lord, as well, and with Feliciano's fear and all his practices spurring him, Lovino noticed the man's feet as well: the boots and pant legs were stained with all sorts of things. Blood spots and scum, and a forceful seawater smell. Lovino was breathing easier now, calmer, and felt ready.

It seemed there was a ball of emotions stuck in his throat as usual, but he swallowed it, and said his practiced words. "You've come ashore to Netturi. Roma is half a day's ride northward. Are you here looking for some rest?"

The stranger lifted his axe above his head as he walked, casting a shadow. Neither he nor Feliciano flinched, at least, not outwardly. Papa would have been proud.

From a distance at which he could have grabbed their throats with his hand, or brought the axe down onto their heads, the man stopped. He dropped his monstrous weapon to the ground, hard, and the head was slightly buried in yellow sand. The smile remained, though, and now without distance or distractions to dim it, one could see that the smile did not touch the man's eyes. There was not even a pretense of friendliness there, and it made Lovino shake.

"I thank you for the personal greeting, my good young men," he said, with a lordling's politeness as well. He spoke Italian with fine fluency. "But Rome is not my destination. And I will need to see more men than you two. Bring me councilmen or elders. Or," The grin moved. It pulled to one side like a foul snarl. "No. That would waste so much time! Go now, go back to your folk and tell them to open their doors to me. My men are tired, and hungry. Hungers of many sorts. If your doors and quaint little jewel-chests are open to us and you don't raise a ruckus, there will be no bodies left behind."

"No bodies?" Feliciano gasped.

The stranger stared him down, and suddenly Feli's shaking was nigh audible. "Are you deaf, campesino? I am telling you to open your townsfolk's doors to me. My men and I have been nine weeks at sea and my patience for stupid men is worn very, very thin on the journey. Go—" A hard nudge of his wrist moved the axe such that its crust of blood and bone-cutting edge could not be ignored. "—and I will not cleave you in half."

The threat was full and unavoidable now. A venomous rage began to simmer quietly in Lovino's chest. With long breaths, he temporarily smothered it.

"We have nothing to take. This isn't a town of riches." He said, and now the stranger sharply turned a green-eyed hawk's gaze on him. He looked every inch a pirate. "Our only offering would be fruits, but none are grown enough to even pick yet. We would offer you an inn to rest at instead."

"An inn." said the green-eyed stranger, and he paused—Lovino's heart skipped a beat, and couldn't help but watch the hand holding the axe—and then he laughed. At first only a single bout like a sudden breath, but it continued. The man had a full and pleasant laugh wholly unlike his dress and expression, a comparison to make the skin crawl. At this, men in the two remaining boats stepped out of their vessels and were walking towards them.

Mid-laughter, the pirate looked at the young Italian man again. "You are a funny little man. An inn, he says. Amigos! Nos ofrece una posada." Two of the oncoming men laughed and said something else that was surely Spanish. He did not respond to them, but to Lovino. "A kind offer from a good campesino. I am not here for rest. I am here for your valuable things. The trinkets that poor folk hold so dear and pass on to their children. I want those. They belong to me now, they will go on my ship and look pathetic and dim next to the treasures I carry from the New World, so that my true gold shines all the brighter."

"You've been to the New World? The far west?" Feli piped up suddenly.

"I have. But you will never see the New World or its treasures, little man. They are mine, mine and the king's. And you will never see today's sunset if you don't move and motivate your townsfolk. Now." He wrested the axe from the ground, and held it over his shoulder within easy striking pose. "Our chat is done and I am inclined to cut off one of your arms for taking so long."

"Carriedo, sir, cut off one anyway!" shouted a man from the back, in accented Italian.

"Mata a ese cerdito, Señor Carriedo!"

"P-please! There's nothing for you in Netturi—!"

'This has gone too far. These men are finished.'

Lovino grabbed at his brother's sleeve and pulled him back. The axe-wielding sailor faced him only. "You won't have anything of ours!" he shouted. The astonishment on the stranger's face, "Carriedo's" face, infuriated him further. "And there won't be any bodies here but your damned and rotting corpses unless you leave these shores now!"

"Why, that one's got to be possessed! Or awfully seasick!" guffawed the Italian-speaking man behind Carriedo.

Carriedo lowered the axe, one-handed, and grabbed Lovino's chin with his free one. He held tight, though Lovino utterly refused him the satisfaction of showing discomfort. "Have you got a death wish? Or maybe you are you ill?" He murmured, lightly shaking Lovino's head in his hand. "There's no reason on this earth that you would want to be in my disfavor, or that of my king. I will collect your little peasantry baubles. And if there is another word from your mouth, you will stay here with me, and your cowardly friend will carry both your arms back uphill with him. And then I will loose a canonshot into your town, because you are well past trying my good patience."

It seemed that a thread had been cut. Lovino's stifled anger spilled over, and he embraced that fire.

He grabbed Carriedo's hand, pulling it a finger's length away from his face. He growled, "Leave us, or I'll kill you!"

Five of the men drew their swords in long, slow scrapes, and three more took muskets from holsters upon their backs.

Lovino further embraced the fire, and breathed heavily into the beach's descending silence. He held Carriedo's eyes and all his fury flowed there. The "pirate" responded by entirely melting his expression of good humor. The axe suited him now.

"Your life is mine now," he rasped, and bared his teeth. He raised his weapon, as did three of his men. Feliciano started to scream behind him.

'Now—at LAST—'

The poleaxe had been raised to a peak height when Lovino, finally, furiously, released himself, and raised his own arm up and lashed it hard to the side. Out in the bay, birds took flight and flapped wildly away, as not a heartbeat later, the invaders' nau was eaten alive by sudden, growing flames.

The screams of men carried across the water, halting Carriedo and his men instantly. They turned, and, to Lovino's hidden pleasure, paled and dropped some of their weapons. The ship's rear mast creaked and groaned like a mighty tree and fell forward into the middle one. Red-hearted fire slithered up along it and spread. Two glass-covered windows belowdeck shattered outward while the men and birds continued to yell and screech in near-tandem.

One of the musket bearers was trembling powerfully. "Capitán, i—" Another blast of fire rocketed upward from the boat he had walked from. Three of them dashed away from it, yelping.

Carriedo whipped around from looking at his ship, and Lovino waited for his dumbfounded gaze. He held it, and made sure the man was watching him. The gears were moving in the invader's mind, to be sure. His eyes went moon-wide watching Lovino lash one wrist—

The center mast exploded.

And in his left palm, still, he clenched his fingers, focusing, focusing—inside he was burning warm and sweet—and after a long moment, there in his palm floated a ball of crimson-lined flame. He waited.

It did not take more than the length of three breaths for one of the sword-carriers to run at him. It may have been the man who had laughingly, insultingly, spoken some Italian. Lovino was long-practiced at the game of men charging towards him, and aimed his fireball well. The attacker was hit square in the stomach. The ball of flame sprouted legs and wrapped nigh-lovingly about his body as he screeched (a plea to God, it seemed, by the desperate flailing crosses he made). The Italian-speaker turned right around and dashed into the sea to extinguish his flames, but none looked to see if he made it deep enough to quench them.

There had been time enough in that man's running to squeeze life into a new fireball. The "king's pirate" continued to gape at him. Lovino fought like a dying man to keep from grinning at how his grip on the axe became loosened and how blatantly astonished he looked. He told the man: "You had several chances to leave us be, murderous bastard."

Carriedo took a step backward, to his one forward. "How. How…"

Lovino did not care. "What man in any king's service would threaten innocent men? I'll bet my life you belong to no king. You're some dirty sea dog, some rotten pirate!" He threw his fire at another one of the musket wielders. The fire burst somewhat upon the impact, and little flares touched his skin. It felt warm and welcoming. "I should sink all you damned pirates, so you'll never crawl like lowly bugs on God's good earth again!"

There was a long pattering of sand behind him, growing faint. Feli had run back to the village, to someone's cottage, to better avoid the flying splinters and spikes as the others were. That no one was now behind him only made the burning easier. It filled him, inside, out, around. Everywhere, finally flying out after holding it and growing it on his moment of today's urgent waking. One more whip of his arm, hard, halfway around his body, pulled a long rope of flames from the air, and he threw it. The last of the three small boats was touched and taken by his mad fire. There were no men left on the shore but one crumpled body, and Carriedo, whose axe had almost fallen out of his grip.

Lovino had had enough of him. He walked forward and pushed his palm forward, shoving a heavy sphere of flame down at the Spanish invader. He leaped backward, three big steps into the sea, and raised one gloved hand, and crossed himself.

"You…you are a devil, then." He whispered evenly. "Those villagers, they—they ran inside their homes to flee…"

"Never call me such a thing!" screeched Lovino. A wolflike rage overcame him again. For a moment, he was surrounded by a line of glowing fire that whirled away the hot sand. "The villagers hide inside their homes to avoid being impaled by the destruction of burning and exploding vessels while I drive out invaders. Cruel, defiling bastard. I'm no devil."

"What are you, then?" Carriedo called. There was nearly a cart-length of sea between them, with the firemaker on shore, water lapping at the toes of his boots, and his enemy close to knee-deep in the shallows.

"I'm my town's protector when necessary. When godless, evil men come around looking to kill and steal from good and honest men."

He took a step into the sea, but the king's pirate would not step back now. He watched Lovino with hard eyes that reflected fire in the green. "I am not godless." He announced, loudly. "You speak as though you are of the faith. I am as much a man of God as you." He reached beneath his collar, pulling at something. Lovino exhaled harshly, expecting another weapon: a shooting dart, which he had seen before, and burned before, but it was only a pendant round his neck, a small wooden cross. He held it delicately atop his fingers, like a man who did indeed set value upon the cross.

"You think He smiles upon what you almost did to my people? You think He approves of pirates that—"

"I am a conquistador," Carriedo said over him. He adjusted his axe in one hand and was all of a sudden positioned for battle, for defense. "I bring discovery and treasure to my nation. I take what I must, what I want."

"You won't be taking anything home for this trip." he spat at the invader. Indeed, behind Carriedo, his entire ship was descending the final, dramatic steps of collapse. A few dozen men had jumped ship, and only the lord himself knew how many of the jumpers lived, or were still trapped inside as it became a vessel of flame. The sea would have it in minutes or less. The Spaniard seemed to be forcing himself to keep locking eyes with his firemaking enemy, but lost the inner battle: he whipped around to look at it, and saw the sea swallowing it.

From the shore, Lovino could see his shaking shoulders. Had there been flames around them at the moment, that soft voice would not have been heard: "Otherworldly creature." He murmured, or so it seemed. His eyes glowed of their own fire now; Lovino grew a new ball of fire in his palm, apprehensive. "Those treasures are worth the lives of three hundred men. You've sunk them like a child throwing a toy...throwing garbage into a pond!"

He was breathing heavy, like a bull preparing its charge, and it made Lovino flinch. Such a reaction had to be stalled, or stopped. "Do you think I'm believing your story about a king and doing this in the name of your nation? What nonsense! Damn you thrice for your theft, your threats on our lives, and your lying! I'll kill you right now!"

The bull charged. The pirate Carriedo sped like a stallion to his target. By the grace of God, Lovino had his own weapon prepared. He screamed as the bull came charging. The ball of fire matured to twice its size in his palm, and snaked up his arm. Carriedo did not stop. The long tail of fire shot from its maker's hand and came over its target like a net, and Carriedo did not stop.

"Bastard!"

He was on fire, his coat and arms and neck were food for Lovino's heated monster. He did not stop.

A flash and glare of metal cast over both their faces, and the firemaker was knocked backwards. Sand and blood were in his vision for a moment, flying, till he struck the ground hard and the blood was sprayed all about. It flowed freely in Lovino's mouth and on his shoulder. One arm was too weak, too red and wet, to move. Far behind him was a voice. Renato, Feliciano. More. His friends and his village folk had been watching and now their screeches filled his ears. Carriedo was walking towards him, but he did not hear the man's words.

Lovino tried to sit up, and could not. No voices reached him but his brother's and the butcher's, screaming loudest of all.

It seemed a long time before Carriedo the false-pirate was standing over him. His red coat was gone, and a red string that had tied a ponytail at the base of his neck had burned away. "Did you hear me? Fabricante del fuego?" He could have answered no. He could have spat up at the man. Lovino chose to breathe, to wait, and let himself be afraid. The axe and the man's green eyes had been made bright by the firefight.

Carriedo lowered the axe head to the ground, and dropped shakily on one scarred knee to be closer to the firemaker's face. "I said…you are a thief, fabricante del fuego. You've stolen my precious treasure. Those things were not yours to take." Lovino watched his mouth move, but did not hear his next few words. Only rushing. Building energy and the strong beat of his blood.

"I will take you instead. You. Your power is worth ten ships of the savages' gold and women." He grabbed for Lovino's head and forced his cheek up from where it had lain on the sand. "Do you understand? You're mine now. You're mine."

Earlier that morning, Father Montalbo had muttered prayers, and Lovino frantically tried to remember them, and uttered his own. Carriedo was staring at him with a fierceness he could not bear, not so weak, so defeated as he was now. He squinted his eyes, groaned with a sudden fear when he heard more shouts and yells form the village, from Feliciano and more. 'Don't come, don't come, don't—' He thought, and then forced his gaze back up to the invader. He squinted further. Focused. Lying on the sand here had been very…hot.

Within a heartbeat Carriedo's victorious pose stiffened and failed. He looked at his own torso, touching his torn tunic while Lovino focused more and more, and grew ever hotter inside. He exhaled quietly. Sand warmed and fused to clumps under his mouth.

"No. No, no, no." Carriedo's lips fluttered and murmured. Lovino let go.

After what felt like agonizing seconds, the harsh share birthed a new flame upon the man's shoulder, and spread over him. He attempted to turn, and lashed a length of fire behind like a coattail, but his movements were slow. It crawled down his back. The fine white tunic began to separate and blacken. Lovino sat up. Stood up. And followed him.

A great spirit indeed lived in the false-pirate Carriedo: he made it to the water and threw himself down into it, and still moved. Lovino hissed at the body scraping sand and wallowing like a bug beneath him. "You think you're going back to your ship, foolish bastard?" He spat into the water, though could not see if he struck man or sea. "Hah! I've fought worse than you. Some pirate. Conquistador. And I'm an Englishman." He coughed suddenly, and spat a small amount of blood into the water, and onto the knees of his trousers.

It was at the beat of "Englishman" that the invader lifted his head and torso up into the air again. Water drained off his head in a heavy, dramatic rush. The head that had minutes ago boasted a fine, courtly ponytail now lacked for one. The hair nearer to his neck was gone, and the skin black.

Carriedo turned himself over with great effort, his former opponent watching all the while. Villagers were coming out of their homes and taking greater liberties in looking out their windows now that the battle had apparently come to a close. The voice of his grandfather carried from somewhere nearby, but Lovino wasn't listening. Spent from all the conjuring, from the blow of the axe, the attacking, he listened only to the close lapping of water, and close breathing of the pirate.

The green-eyed invader was looking up at him. He looked spent as well. "You…fought befffore?" he whispered with a rasp. "Like thiss. Burned men…to de-ath?"

"Since I was a child." Lovino answered, swallowing a bit of blood in his mouth.

Carriedo did not swallow his blood. It dribbled out the corner of his mouth, into the water. But he smiled, pleasant as his first interaction. "I do not. Understand! It is magic, that you can make fire? Ah? Magic...?"

"It's a gift. I use it to protect people." Lovino said impatiently. He frowned. "Your stare…rrgh! I hope God takes your life in the next minute. I'm sick of you."

"Die?" he said, and smiled more. "I'm not going to…die yet. I will take you with me, t-to the queen. You belong to..." But more blood drained away, from his chest and back and his head. And the seawater surely salted his burns further. His mind was clouding in death, as he had seen many times before. Lovino knew very well the effects of his power on other men. Carriedo's eyes were glazing, and their own fire diminishing.

'Die,' Lovino flatly told the fire, and he began to walk away. Water drained messily off his legs, leaving wispy blood trails along his calves, and marks of watered-down crimson in the sand. A fraction of one of the burned-up boats knocked against his foot, and he kicked at it with a growl. The movement nearly caused him to fall. Lovino messily caught himself and stood holding his bleeding shoulder. He looked up at the village before him, Netturi, unharmed still. The folk were coming out of their houses in full now.

Feliciano was running down to see him with his feet bare, rabbit-swift. "Fratello, fratello!" He shouted. For a moment, his voice was gone and it was a battle to keep standing. Lovino lifted his uninjured arm to accept him as he came; Feli crashed into him and clamped his arms hard around his brother's back. A careful dig of his foot in the sand kept them from falling over, and Lovino noted this in an irritated groan in his brother's ear.

"I thought he'd killed you." Feli gasped. His fingers were clenching now. Weak, and cool inside, Lovino could not have escaped his grasp if he had desired to. "And then…God above. Lovino, he was trying to pull you up, he was going to take you away. I could hear him say it."

"Thanks for staying out. I might have burned you bad."

"You saved us again, good Lovino—"

"Thank the lord for your strength, Lovino! Oh!"

Renato and Matteo and several more were coming down the hill to give greetings and praise. "Lovino, my strong brother, he said he'd have those men gone by midday! My brother keeps his word!" Feli shouted. His brother exhaled with a slight frown and made to decline this, but a hearty slap on the back stopped him, and brought another bout of coughing.

"I-I need…to rest. I need…" said the beloved village firemaker. Another man's voice called out for water and a poultice and wrappings to be brought for his gashed shoulder and beaten chest. While Feliciano and Renato the butcher guided Lovino up the hill to a waiting bed, where his day's rest might at last be had.

Once he was situated on a bed, and water had been brought, and the majority of the crowd pushed to the front door to give their praise from a distance, Lovino was asked if the pirate was dead. "Mmm," was his answer. He remembered the light going out of the man's eyes, impossible to miss. "Let him float there. The fishes can have a good feast, learn what roast meat tastes like."

Feli sat down next to him. "Lovino," he said, sweet as always, sweet and good as he had ever been, "thank you so much. You're a true warrior. I could never be like you. And I am so wonderfully proud of you, do you hear me?"

"I hear..." He smiled and touched his twin's arm and felt him. He did not open his eyes again.

Feliciano sat up and helped him lie down on the fur coverlet. "I'll go shoo everyone away for a while. They know you need to sleep some. Renato, Renato, could you help me?"

The cottage was soon empty. The window was closed. He suddenly listened for little Ennio again, shouting for dolphins, but not more alerts came. Lovino breathed deeply, and felt inside himself for his fires, burning since the dawn of his memory. They were lower and cooler than they ought to have been, but that was fine. It was the cost. He was used to the cost. Soon, he would feel warmer. He breathed, and listened to the faint and far whisper of the sea.

Lovino rested.


I'm…happy with this. :)

Again, this is the product of my idea of, what would it be like if Romano could...fight back against Spain, in some way? Could match him? This is what I spent the last three days writing. I was sort of worried at the conversation of the brothers meeting their displeasing visitors, but once I got to the fight scene guuagh I couldn't stop! And I thought I'd have this story done by 5 pm today but nooope it is 10:15 so eff any plans I had today. Like working out and playing Pokemon. Yeah, my poor, poor plans. Anyway, this fic excited me upon its inception and it still rather does! I spent half of one microeconomics class jotting down notes for it, and I never write fanfic notes or fanfic anything on paper. It's always been a strictly "typing" thing for me.

The original plan was to write a very very long oneshot that included 2 -3 times the story that this did, but I'm choosing to post it as-is for now. The way I see it, I could call this a oneshot and be done, or leave it open for the rest of the story that I still have planned out. The former would mean that Antonio dies lying there in the shallows and Romano won the battle. The latter means that he somehow lives and sneaks away and comes back for revenge of a sort, eheehueheeh

(And I have such a thing for Spain, Conquistador or no, calling Romano "mine" for any reason that it has ceased to be funny)

PS I feel the story was lacking somewhat in...voice? It seemed I was writing "it was" and various simplistic fact-giving statements quite a lot, I think that's a consequence of both not seriously writing very much in a good long while AND the fact that I was trying to maintain a balance of writing in Lovino's POV while still hiding the fact that he was thinking about using his fire to deal with these guys every step of the way. In order to keep that sorta...a "secret" from the reader, I had to avoid Romano's thoughts, which would just be full of that.

STORY/BACKGROUND NOTES, YOU DON'T REALLY HAVE TO READ THESE THANKS FOR COMING GOODBYE

1: why did a Conquistador (Romano was wrong about the pirate thing, he really was a Conquistador) want lame shit from an Italian village? Just like he said, he wanted some random extra jewels, trinkets, etc. that would purposely look not-that-impressive so that the South American loot would look even better in comparison when he presented the fruits of his journey to King Philip II, so uh…that's all I got. Btw he was supposed to be like 26 and Romano 19? Mehh not so important.

2: Netturi was more or less based on the real-life Italian town of Nettuno, once a fishing town and now a respectable tourist spot. And they DO have a little castle called the "Forte Sangallo".

3: Lovino was born with the ability to manipulate and create fire and was taught to use it "for good" which amounted mostly to burning bandits, thieves, pirates, etc. He has been "the village protector" for many years. The people of Netturi believe he is literally a godsend and his powers are a holy gift specifically for protecting them. They wholly embrace his ability, expect him to take out any bad folks that come in, and probably pay his damn taxes for him and praise him in church sermons, they love him so much.

4: A nau is a Portuguese (I think) design of ship that was used often in the 1400 - 1600s. Very big, good for long trips across oceans, but not as steady as a galleon, which was invented later. This is the type of ship the Conquistadors sailed!

5: The "red, jagged cross on a white background" was called The Cross of Burgundy. It's the flag that Spanish ships sailed with during that same time period and PROBABLY the one that a Conquistador ship would have on it...?

6: It felt kinda important to me that Lovino and Antonio never actually learned each other's names. They are only "the firemaker" (which is hopefully what fabricante del fuego translates to) and "the invader". At least, that'll be so until (if) I write any more to this story. If I do, there'll be more obvious Spamano around (hint Spain's feelings are/will be somewhat stronger than Romano's) but it would still kinda...be difficult because of their very opposing sides and you know, pretty much all Italians and Spanish at this time were hardcore Catholic and 1500s Catholicism says "no homo or you die".

7: There's someone else around with a pseudo-magical ability but it's nothing to do with fire woohooo find out if I ever continue this! (WANNA GUESS WHAT AND WHO IT IS HEY YOU SHOULD GUESS WHO AND WHAT IT IS)

Are you still reading? Wow! Thank you so much! I hope you enjoyed :)

Storm