“Boy,” Feliciano said to himself, closing the trapdoor to the attic, “for such a neat and tidy guy, it sure is messy up here.” He rolled up his sleeves and carefully surveyed the room. Boxes were stacked haphazardly against the walls, and everything was covered in dust. One box had fallen off its perch, spilling a pile of moth-eaten lederhosen across the floor; Italy suppressed a fit of giggles. “Well, if I clean this place up, Germany will definitely forgive me for the sausages.” He still didn’t know what the big deal was; he thought the pasta was a wonderful blend of their cultures and made the sausages more edible besides, but Germany had just gone on about compromising the integrity of proud German wurst.
The first box Italy opened contained a pile of black helmets with silver spikes on top. “Oh wow, so scary!” he exclaimed, taking on out and trying it on. “This one makes me feel tall, why didn’t Germany have this kind during the war? I guess I’ll keep this one and throw out the rest,” he continued, folding the flaps back in and shoving the box aside, “he probably doesn’t need all of them.”
A number of other boxes went by in the same manner as the first, old guns and uniforms and medals and one box stuffed to the brim, curiously, with especially tacky steins. “Germany sure does fight a lot,” Feliciano sighed, rifling through a stack of old clothes. “Oh!” He pulled out a brown uniform jacket, red armband still pinned to the sleeve. “This is his boss’s from that time, isn’t it?” He held the jacket up to himself and stuck his finger sideways across his upper lip. “I look like Charlie Chaplin,” he growled sternly, “do what I say!” He laughed uproariously and slung the jacket on a old coat rack he’d found. The jacket had been lying atop a pile of yellow stars; Italy stared frowning at them for a few moments before giving a shrug and scrawling “Christmas decorations” across the flap.
“Now what’s this?” Italy hefted a chunk of concrete that had been tossed in the corner of the attic. It looked like the ruins of a wall or something, part of a mural or something painted on one side. “What does he want something like this for? Just throw it away.” He tossed it in the trash pile, wincing at the loud thunk it made and hoping Germany didn’t hear; he wanted this to be a surprise. He looked around, wondering whether to tackle the Mann or Nietzsche collections, when a roll of paper, sticking out of a hole in the plaster, caught his eye.
Ludwig was downstairs reading the newspaper when he heard the unmistakable thud of Feliciano’s feet thundering down the stairs. He only had just enough time to tuck the newspaper safely out of harms way when Italy came tearing in, clutching a roll of parchment in one hand with tears streaming down his face.
“Germany!” Italy sobbed, throwing himself into Ludwig’s lap, “Germany!”
“What?! And why are you wearing that thing,” Germany took the hemelt off Italy’s head, “You’ll hurt someone with that thing.”
“Germany, Germany,” Feliciano kept crying, waving his paper around like a madman. Germany took it and unfurled it.
“Hey,” Ludwig said, “this looks like you, doesn’t it? Where did this come from?”
“I… attic… sausages…” Italy hiccoughed.
Germany went red. “I wasn’t that upset about the pasta.” He studied the drawing. “It really is you, then? You found it in the attic?”
Feliciano wiped his nose on his sleeve. “From when I was little and living with Austria,” he said, the tears starting to subside.
“That’s strange,” Germany said, patting Italy’s back with his free hand. “It must’ve belonged to whoever lived here before. What a coincidence.” He paused and furrowed his brows. “Why are you wearing a dress?”
“Eh?” Italy blinked, his tears finally stopping. “You mean it’s not yours, Germany?”
“How could it be? I wasn’t around yet when you were still this small.”
“Oh,” Italy sniffled, “I guess that’s true. Or more, I knew that already, but then I thought…” Feliciano bit his lip and ran his fingers along the edge of the picture. “My friend drew it, I think… I told him I’d wait for him, but he never…”
Germany’s throat went tight and he glanced at the clock. “It’s after three,” he said, “shouldn’t you be having your nap?”
“Siesta!” Italy flew off the couch and started taking off his pants. “I completely forgot!”
“You don’t need to be naked to have a nap!!” Ludwig grabbed the blanket off the back of the couch. “Anyway, just sleep here, I’ll wake you up later.”
Feliciano’s face lit up and he dove back onto the couch, settling his head in Ludwig’s lap, completely recovered. “Is Germany going to have a siesta, too?”
“No, I’ll read the paper in peace for once,” Ludwig said, tucking the blanket around Feliciano’s shoulders.
Italy grabbed Germany’s hand suddenly and looked up. “Germany,” he said, “You won’t forget me, right?”
Ludwig rapped Feliciano on the head with his knuckles. “I told you a long time ago I wouldn’t,” he said, “Who could forget a useless idiot like you? Go to sleep.”
“That’s true, isn’t it?” Italy smiled brightly and snuggled against Germany. He was asleep within minutes, as Ludwig knew he’d be, clinging to the hem of his shirt with one hand. The drawing lay half-rolled on the table; Ludwig picked it up again and smoothed out the edges to study it more closely. The lines, he thought, were crude and shaky, but Italy’s smiling face was drawn with care. Germany pressed his fingers softly to his lips and stared.
“Those helmets aren’t even the real ones from that time, you know.”
“Britain keeps sending them to me for my birthday, he thinks he’s being funny. America sends me those steins, too, I don’t know where he gets them.”
“And the lederhosen?”
“Germany, what about the lederhosen?”
“…do you want to have pasta tonight?”
“I want gnocchi!”