Author/Artist: chromatic_coma @ animusia
Character(s)/Pairing(s): (in this chapter) Prussia, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Germany, N. Italy, S.Italy ;; Austria/Hungary, Germany/Italy, Spain/Romano,
Genre: Friendship, Romance, Slice-of-Life, Angst
Warning(s): Kissing, Swearing, Homosexual Relationships, Original Character, YMMV Characterizations, Angst
Summary: A lot has happened in the past ten years, and for some it was impossible to keep promises that were once so central and vital. As their high school reunion captures them all by surprise, the Bad Touch Trio will have to re-learn the meaning of friendship and love.
x-posted @ hetalia, inthreesome
Part I Chapter I - Part I Chapter II - Part I Chapter III - Part I Chapter IV - Part I Chapter V - Part I Chapter VI - Part I Final - Part II Chapter I - Part II Chapter II - Part II Chapter IV - Part II Chapter V - Part II Chapter VI - Part II Final
Scarred Heart in Hand, Part II Chapter III
The night progressed, not too slowly, and not too quickly, either. Elizaveta was pleased that, especially after that rough start, everyone had lapsed back into their old relationships like there hadn’t been years of change keeping them apart. She was especially satisfied that she had been able to get through to Gilbert; as expected, he wore his good mood on his sleeve and it was contagious.
She sighed, nestling subtly closer into Roderich’s shoulder; he had convinced her to sit down once again, if only by annoying her to the point where it was either she sit and keep her composure, or lash out and then blame it on the hormones. She had, however, agreed to sit only on the condition that he sat with her, deriving sick pleasure for his obvious discomfort at now being shorter than the people he was talking to.
The lesson here, she decided, was to never get on a pregnant woman’s bad side.
The conversation had been going smoothly; the other men in the group had started talking about their jobs and work life, which was actually a lot more interesting than she had expected it would be; Gilbert was an engineer, and went to great trouble to give very vivid descriptions of the best of his designs, even pulling out his phone and showing off some of the plans and photos of the finished buildings. Lovino had commented that he’d never even thought that Gilbert would graduate, much less get to being so successful, and Gilbert was so pleased that he could not be daunted, even when everyone agreed.
Feliciano and Lovino had both, as expected, gone into the art field, but both with very different mindsets. Feliciano had studied very traditional styles of painting, and obtained a Masters degree in Fine Arts with extensive study of the Italian Renaissance, while Lovino had settled for a Bachelors in Illustration, and was now doing freelance work drawing magazine covers and, more recently, illustrating children’s books.
Antonio had very animatedly talked about the adorable children at the daycare center where he taught, being sure to mention that, as cute as they were, they were not as adorable as his little Bella, who was sleeping soundly, snuggled against his shoulder. At the mention of her name, as if she could hear them in her sleep, the infant’s eyes began to open blearily. They all watched as, when Bella realized that she was in an unfamiliar place, she started to whimper, threatening to burst out into tears.
“Shh, shh, Bella, it’s okay. Papa’s here,” Antonio cooed softly, holding her up so that she could see his face. Elizaveta watched the exchange, saw as Bella started to relax and reach for Antonio’s shirt, with a smile that steadily grew on her face. She looked over at Roderich, who was watching the scene as well (they all were, of course) with a look of fascination and, barely masked underneath, a glimpse of dread and worry in his features.
Elizaveta tsked, taking his long hand in her own small one and laying his palm over her womb, where their child was taking his time growing. He looked up at her in alarm, but before he could open his mouth, no doubt to ask if she was okay, Elizaveta squeezed his fingers.
Roderich’s cheeks flushed lightly and he smiled, rubbing his wife’s small baby bump for just a moment before pulling his hand back shyly. Elizaveta kissed him softly on the cheek, turning back to the rest of the group in time to meet Bella’s inquisitive eyes.
“Hey there baby,” she cooed, and Bella coiled back, fisting her hand more tightly in Antonio’s shirt. Elizaveta frowned, and Bella turned away, burying her nose in her father’s chest.
“Come on, Bella, this is Auntie Liz. She loves you, so you don’t have to be scared.”
Antonio’s cooing had no effect, as the child looked back up from behind her chubby arm cautiously. Elizaveta waved at her and she stared, still afraid.
Then Bella looked away, turning her attentions to the rest of the adults, all of whom were enthralled by her actions. It was amazing, Elizaveta realized, how easily an infant could capture the attention of adults, how fascinating each of her gestures were. Seeing Bella coo and babble and cling to her parents made her even more excited for when she would be raising a child of her own.
Suddenly, to everyone’s great surprise, Bella’s gaze stopped when it reached Ludwig, and she gave him a quizzical look, before beginning to babble and holding her arms out to him. And, while everyone was shocked by the suddenness of it, no one was more shocked that Lovino, who was slack jawed and speechless, and Ludwig himself, who was looking at Bella as if hoping she would realize she was making a mistake.
There was no such luck for him, however, and Bella started to fuss in Antonio’s grasp, wriggling and whimpering, stretching out and crying for Ludwig to hold her.
“Come on Ludwig,” Feliciano finally cut in, “Take her!”
When Ludwig hesitated, Feliciano nudged his shoulder smiling, “Go on!”
“Are you sure…?” The blond asked nervously, meeting Antonio’s gaze; he too was grinning.
“Of course! If Bella wants to spent time with you, that’s fine with us. Isn’t that right, Lovino?”
Lovino grumbled something incomprehensible, but it obviously wasn’t denying him permission, and so Ludwig hesitantly took Bella, who immediately gave a happy gurgle and patted her palm against his thin cheek.
Gilbert laughed, “Look, Bruder, you’ve got a little sweetheart!”
“H-Hello, Bella,” Ludwig stuttered; Elizaveta found it adorable that Bella managed to do in mere moments what no one but Feliciano had managed to do in the past 26 years; she had managed to fluster Ludwig to the point of flushing his cheeks with a pinkish hue.
“Introduce yourself to her,” Antonio coaxed, “go on. She wants to know who you are.”
“B-But… why me?”
“Pft,” Lovino snorted, “Hell if we know. She probably inherited her uncle’s bad taste.”
“Lovino!” Elizaveta snapped, frowning, “That’s not a polite thing to say, or a good example to set.”
Gilbert barely managed to suppress a laugh as Lovino flushed with embarrassment.
Feliciano patted his brother’s head, “It’s fine. I know you don’t mean it!”
Lovino looked as if he was ready to protest, but a sharp look from Elizaveta caused him to shut his mouth.
“Go on,” she coaxed gently, excited to see how Bella would respond, “it’s rare for children Bella’s age to want to be away from their parents, so if she’s letting you hold her she must already like you. You’re not going to do anything wrong, Ludwig.”
Apparently those were the words the blond needed to hear, as he cleared his throat and started, “My name is Ludwig- ah, U-Uncle Ludwig…”
He looked up, past the child, asking silently for Antonio’s approval; the brunet was nodding happily, gesturing with his hands ’go on’.
“Um…” Ludwig trailed off, but it hardly mattered that he was at a loss for words; apparently Bella had decided that Ludwig was a good person and very comfortable, as she leaned in to his chest and started to nibble on his shirt.
Ludwig looked up at Antonio helplessly; Elizaveta hid her chuckle behind her hand, while Antonio and Feliciano were too busy gushing over how adorable she was to give Ludwig the assistance he was looking for. Gilbert, who was apparently too manly to stick around while an “estrogen fest” took place (his words, not hers), has gone off to go get food, and Roderich still had that expression of “oh God that is going to be me very soon, isn’t it?” on his face. Elizaveta realized that this exposure was probably good for him. Perhaps, if they were lucky, Bella would warm up to him as well…
“Here,” Lovino snapped, pressing a bottle into the hand that was not supporting the infant. “She’s trying to tell you that she’s hungry.”
“A-Ah,” Ludwig nodded, pressing the bottle to her lips; as promised, she took it in her hands and suckled eagerly. For the first time since he’d first started carrying her, Ludwig’s face finally relaxed into a smile as he held up the end of the bottle for her to drink more easily from it.
Elizaveta did not want to point out that Feliciano had snapped a few pictures of the scene with his cell phone; she made a mental note to email him later for copies.
“Don’t tilt it so much…” Lovino muttered, adjusting the other male’s hand around the bottle, “She’ll choke if so much goes into her mouth at once.”
“Aw, Lovino, you’re such a good papa!”
“Shut- Be quiet, Antonio…”
Gilbert returned a moment later, leaning his arm over Antonio’s shoulder and watching his brother’s attempt at nurturing with a lopsided smile.
“She’s a really cute kid, Toni. In fact, I think you should let Uncle Gilbert hold her for a while.”
Gilbert quirked his eyebrow at Lovino, nodding slowly, which only served to visibly infuriate the brunet that much more.
“Duh. Toni and I are brothers, isn’t that right?”
Antonio nodded, slinging his arm around Gilbert’s shoulders. “Of course, always.”
“Tch, brothers my as-” Lovino was quick to cut himself off, even though it didn’t seem like Bella was paying him any attention, far more interested in her bottle and the shiny button on Ludwig’s suit jacket. “If you’re so brotherly, how come you haven’t talked to him in months, huh?”
Gilbert frowned, and Elizaveta took a moment to brace herself for the shouting match to begin.
“None of your fucking business!”
“Gilbert!” Ludwig glared, but he was wholly ignored. Elizaveta patted his shoulder, and when she got his attention she just shook her head.
“Let them go at,” she whispered, “though if things get explosive it’s probably best that you just walk away and let me handle it.”
“It is my business when someone upsets Antonio, okay? It’s entirely my business, and while he’s too nice to say anything to you, I’m not!”
Gilbert was, for a moment, speechless. Elizaveta sighed loudly, drawing attention to herself.
“Don’t worry, Lovino, I already chewed him out tonight. He’s plenty guilty, aren’t you Gilbert?”
Elizaveta knew that it was contrary to his nature to agree; after all, being guilty for things was, in the words of Gilbert past, “totally not awesome.” But when he huffed and didn’t respond, she knew that it would come across, at least to Ludwig, Antonio, and even Roderich (she hoped), that he truly was guilty.
Gilbert crossed his wiry arms tightly over his lean chest, refusing to meet anyone’s gaze. Harshly he muttered, “Yes,” looking up at giving such a defiant stare as if challenging anyone to question him. No one did, and Elizaveta decided it was time for a change in mood.
“Speaking of brothers,” she started softly, “where is the third musketeer?”
“You mean Francis?”
Elizaveta nodded, and Antonio shrugged.
“He told me that he might not be coming. A big order came in, and he is going to stay behind and work on it…”
Gilbert was the first to react, face turning into a grimace as he snarled the words everyone was thinking, “And you guys thought I was bad. I may not have been the most awesome friend, but at least I showed up!”
“Gilbert, relax, everyone’s got a job to do and sometimes things just don’t work out.”
Gilbert’s jaw tensed, and he pulled his arm away from Elizaveta’s touch.
“I know Francis. Francis hasn’t changed at all since high school and I know him. He’s got enough charm that if he wanted to get out of work, he could do so with ease, and if he’s not here it’s because he doesn’t want to be here.”
The albino gave a hollow laugh, grip around Antonio’s shoulder tightening, “Isn’t that right, Antonio? Some forever this turned out to be…”
Antonio surprised them all by roughly shoving Gilbert away from him.
“You’re a pretty horrible person, aren’t you? If you’ve come here to make us all feel like shit, Gilbert, then I’m sorry but I don’t want to be around you.”
“You know exactly what. You… you were my best friend, and then you stopped talking to me, and sure you showed up at my graduation and my wedding and you send me the occasional email but you were the one who promised high school wasn’t the end, and you are the one who broke that promise!”
Everyone was silent, except for Bella, who had started whimpering at the sound of her father’s cross tone. Feliciano was quick to help Ludwig hush her, which was just as well because even Lovino was so shocked the sound barely registered.
Gilbert huffed, and Antonio licked his dry lips, waiting for a response.
And then the truly unexpected happened. Because the others had all been waiting to see what was going to be said next, no one felt or saw anyone new step up to the group, until suddenly a pale hand, covered in colorful splotches, gripped Antonio’s shoulder, it’s other gripping Gilbert in the same manner.
“I cannot believe it…”
to be continued
A/N: Filler chapter? What filler chapter? Oh... this one... ehehe ^^; Well, in my defense, it's cute. So yeah. There.
So yes, I am sorry about the amount of sheer fluff in this chapter and not much else; this part is very different from part one, I'll give you that. The next chapter will have a little more in the way of plot.
AND OH LOOK, I WONDER WHO THAT IS AT THE END THERE