Warnings: Sickness and fluff
Characters/Pairings: Italy, Germany and a cameo from Romano; GerIta
Summary: Feliciano is sick, and Ludwig comes to help him heal.
Notes: gertalia_santa gift for robingurl which I've been writing for a while and I'm so excited to finally post! That makes four swaps done! Anyway, I hope everyone is having a happy and healthy holiday. ♥
As soon as Ludwig donned the brick staircase to the Mediterranean-style house, he could feel the temperature drop considerably. His eyes flicked up at the door, waiting for the inevitable door-fling from one very excitable Feliciano Vargas coming to greet him; he always seemed to hear Ludwig’s lumbering steps along the long pathway. But nothing happened.
Sighing, Ludwig followed the rest of the stairs up and pushed gently on the door, waiting for some sign of Feliciano or his brother.
“Erm, hello?” Ludwig called into the foyer, pushing the door closed behind him. He tightened his jacket around his shoulders even though the temperature was mild. There was something not quite right with the big house.
“Oi, who’s there—oh,” a voice said, and Romano appeared at the doorway to the kitchen, looking sour and annoyed. He sniffed and rubbed his face with his hand, eyelids perched over his big green eyes like tarps covering from the rain. His face was paler than his normal sunkissed pallor, and his nose was red with swollen patches on his cheeks. He looked downright miserable, with big bags under his eyes, wrapped up in a long-sleeved jersey and wearing jeans that were far too big for him.
“I didn’t know you were coming to La Casa Romana this weekend,” Romano said, narrowing his blurry eyes at Ludwig as he leaned against the doorway. Ludwig set his bag down on the floor where Gino padded over, purring happily and rubbing against the garment.
“Well, originally I was meeting Feliciano at Dipinto Villa in Venice this weekend, but he sent me a note saying to come here... I’m assuming you also weren’t expecting to be here this weekend?” Ludwig noted as Romano clicked his tongue and shook his head.
“Stupid Feliciano, making me stay here even though you’re here to take care of him, apparently,” Romano quipped. Elio, Gino’s brother, appeared at Romano’s ankles, curling between his master’s feet and mewing disparagingly at Ludwig. Ludwig let out a groan as La Casa Romana sighed into its foundation around him. Clearly, Feliciano had failed at communication between the two nations... Ludwig opened his mouth to speak when something clicked.
“Wait... take care of him? What’s wrong with him?” Ludwig asked, dread settling into his gut. Romano paused and braced himself for a sneeze, but when nothing happened he frowned and shoved his hands into his pockets.
“He’s ill,” Romano replied. “Don’t know if you’ve noticed over there in your little German fantasy-land of the north, but things aren’t going real well economically down here,” he said, bending to scoop Elio into his arms. The cat protested, and then focused on batting at Romano’s curl, which simply made Romano roll his eyes. “And then Berlusconi resigned and, well, the rest is upstairs in bed.” Ludwig sighed, shucking his coat.
“Feliciano failed to mention that he was feeling ill,” Ludwig murmured. Truthfully, he hadn’t been able to speak very often with his Liebling since Ludwig found himself wrapped up in constant meetings. This weekend was supposed to be just the two of them, hidden away in Dipinto Villa, Feliciano’s house in Venice, pretending for a while that they weren’t trying to fix the Eurozone constantly.
“That’s hard to believe, considering he’s been complaining to everyone,” Romano noted. He scratched Elio’s ears and glanced up the stairs to where Feliciano’s bedroom was.
“Well, I’m going to be here all weekend, so if you want to go somewhere else, feel free,” Ludwig said, picking up his bag and slinging it over his shoulder. Please, please, feel free.
Romano gave another terse glance up the staircase and then stared at Ludwig.
“I promise I’ll take very, very good care of him,” Ludwig said, noticing the fraternal glint in Romano’s eyes. “Haven’t I done nothing but fix him up for the last seventy years?”
“...alright, fine,” Romano muttered, although his face showed a mixture of relief and concern. Elio leaped from his arms and Ludwig ascended the stairs.
“I was supposed to go stay with Antonio this weekend,” Romano said as Ludwig reached the next landing. “Taking care of him.”
“We should start a European sick ward,” Ludwig commented darkly. Romano gave a dry laugh and Ludwig stopped where he was standing, surprised that Romano acknowledged his attempt at humor. He must be getting really sick himself, Ludwig thought as he shook it off. He reached the end of the hallway and was face-to-face with a large oak door with a brass handle, reminiscent of an 18th-century mansion.
“Feliciano?” Ludwig called, knocking gently. “Feliciano, are you awake? It’s me.” Downstairs, Ludwig could hear Romano cursing in Italian. Ludwig knocked again. “Feliciano? Liebling?”
“Mm, door’s open,” a weak call came from the other side. Ludwig pushed the door open and found Feliciano curled up into his big bed, tucked into a sheet, fleece blanket, a duvet and a down comforter, surrounded by a cloud of pillows. A pink face with a swollen nose and tired eyes blinked at him from the center of the bed, and Ludwig smiled and sat down on the edge of the bed. It looked like Feliciano had gathered every pillow and cushion he could find from around La Casa Romana to furnish his sick nest.
“Ahh, Ludwig,” Feliciano said in a sing-song voice. “Ludwig is heeeeere, finally!” Ludwig pressed a hand to Feliciano’s forehead; it was warm but not alarmingly so. Against his better judgment, Ludwig leaned in and pecked the sick Italian’s forehead, rubbing his thumb in small circles against Feliciano’s temple.
“Yes, I’m here,” Ludwig responded. He sat up, lacing his fingers into Feliciano’s expectant hand. “Why didn’t you tell me you were staying here because you were sick?”
“I didn’t want to worry you,” Feliciano answered. “I’ve been sick for a week now, and I know Ludi’s so very busy. If I told you, you would just fret.” Feliciano smiled, his teeth pearly white and perfect underneath his bright red lips. “ ‘Sides, I knew you’d be here at the end of the week.” He turned onto his side, nestling into the pillows so that one eye was looking up at Ludwig.
Ludwig stroked his shoulder, cringing at how stuffed Feliciano sounded. The nightstand was littered with tissues, three mugs and an empty nip of chocolate liqueur. That one golden eye followed Ludwig’s movements as he cleared off the nightstand into the wastebasket, raising his eyebrows at the nip. Ludwig glanced back down, forcing himself to retain his smile, even though he felt like doing anything but. Feliciano’s eyes were worn, slightly bloodshot and lost beneath his fluttering eyelids he struggled to keep open. The heat had been turned up in the room, although Feliciano shivered despite. As Ludwig stood and placed his bag and coat in the corner of the room, he listened to the minute groans and harsh breathing that made his heart ache.
“So, how have you been feeling? You really should have told me you were ill, Feli,” Ludwig said, running his hand through Feliciano’s tousled hair. “Is it just a cold?”
“I-I think so,” Feliciano replied. “Although I’ve never had a cold like this... it really hurts, Ludi,” Feliciano said, closing his eyes.
“Where does it hurt?” Ludwig asked, leaning over Feliciano’s tiny frame. Ludwig peeled the layers of cover off of Feliciano and touched the Italian’s side, prodding and massaging gently as he tried to find Feliciano’s aching spots.
“On my side, a-and on my waist. My head hurts, and my legs hurt, and my toes hurt when I walk...” Feliciano mumbled as Ludwig prodded his ribcage. “And—aaahhh! Ludi, ahh stop my chest hurts too!” Ludwig immediately drew his hands away as Feliciano rolled over onto his back, coughing into his wrist. Ludwig pressed as lightly as he could along Feliciano’s chest, collarbone and neck, feeling for swollen lymph nodes and arbitrary muscle pain from the sickness. Feliciano whimpered but complied, pushing himself up the pillows so he was in a semi-sitting position.
“It’s a good thing you habitually sleep naked,” Ludwig murmured. Feliciano was only wearing boxers underneath all the blankets, so Ludwig had direct access to his body to check him over. “This would be a lot more difficult if we had to undress you first.”
“I don’t mind it when Ludwig undresses me, though,” Feliciano said, smiling. Ludwig flushed and avoided the Italian’s gaze, instead rolling the blankets back over him and standing up. Ludwig placed his hands on his waist, staring down at Feliciano, calculating his moves. He’d have to gather as many towels as he could find and heat them up for his joints, and then see if he could brew something that would make Feliciano feel better.
Feliciano curled back into the bed, graciously accepting the glass of water Ludwig brought him from the adjoining bathroom.
“I’m going to be right back, okay, Feliciano?” Ludwig said. Feliciano nodded and gripped the glass with both hands, pressing it to his lips and closing his eyes.
Ludwig headed back down to the first floor, where Romano was shoving a plastic container into the refrigerator in the corner of the kitchen. He had changed his shirt and was now wearing a coat, piling oranges into the bowl on the kitchen island. Ludwig leaned on the other side of the kitchen island, clearing his throat awkwardly. Romano spun around and glared at the approaching nation, but he didn’t say anything.
“How long has he been bed-ridden?” Ludwig asked after a time. Romano slid another container into the refrigerator and slammed it shut, pushing a stool against it and leaning to the cabinet above it. He turned the key and pulled it from the keyhole, pocketing said key and fishing in his coat pockets.
“For about four days now,” he said as he rummaged for something in his coat. “Where—oh, there it is. Stupid thing.” He folded his plane ticket into his diplomatic passport and tucked it into his inner pocket, stretching his shoulders as he walked. “I just put all the soup I’d been making into a bunch of bowls to be heated up, so that you don’t make anything weird that’ll make him even worse. Also—” he pointed to the cabinet he just locked. “Liquor is locked up, and I’m taking the key.” Ludwig frowned but at the same time was touched at the bizarrely gracious gesture and set the kettle on the stove.
“Well, are you leaving, then?” Ludwig inquired. Romano sighed—loudly—and pulled a box from the cabinet.
“This is the tea we’ve been drinking since childhood,” he said, putting it beside the kettle. “It’s loose, so it has to be brewed in the pot. The instructions are written on the inside, but they’re probably difficult to see since neither of us have ever needed them.” He crossed his arms and looked around the kitchen, avoiding the German’s eyes.
“There’s a wooden chest underneath this counter,” Romano said, kicking a cabinet door. “It has all the herbs for the holistic crap that doesn’t actually work.” He sighed once more and glanced at the clock on the wall.
“I’m gonna go say bye to Feliciano and then wait for my cab,” Romano said, brushing past Ludwig and taking the stairs two at a time.
Ludwig just leaned against the counter, listening to the water bubble. He wandered into the living room to see if he could set up a space for Feliciano to lie down and be comfortable instead of locked away in his room. The living room had three skylights and big picture windows, allowing lots of sunlight into the room. While he was moving one of the couches, he heard Romano come bounding down the stairs and slam the door, not even bothering to say a word to the nation.
Well, at least he won’t be angry with me all the time, Ludwig thought as he retreated to the kitchen as the kettle wailed. He allowed the tea to brew, gathered something resembling crackers, and brought a bowl upstairs with the crackers and tea in hand. He entered Feliciano’s room, pushing the door open with his hip.
“Feli, I brought you something,” he said, but as he entered, he heard a soft snoring coming from the bed interspersed with small coughs. Feliciano was curled on his side, one hand laying palm-up on his pillow, mouth slightly ajar, his hair mussed over his forehead and spread around his head. Ludwig smiled and placed the bowl on the bedside table with the mug of tea and eased onto the edge of the bed, allowing himself to gently touch Feliciano’s cheek as he slept.
“I’m so sorry you’re so ill, Liebling,” he murmured, running his fingers once more through Feliciano’s hair. With his pale skin, rosy cheeks and red lips, all swollen and round, Feliciano could almost pass as the subject of a Rococo painting. Ludwig chuckled at the resemblance, down to the nudity and draping layers of fabric surrounding the Italian nation.
Ludwig looked around the room and frowned to himself. Knowing Feliciano, the nation had holed himself up in this room for the entire duration of his sickness; Ludwig couldn’t help but shudder at how contaminated everything was.
Ludwig leaned forward and grunted, wrapping Feliciano’s blankets around him and scooping the smaller man into his arms, laying Feliciano’s head against his own shoulder. Feliciano’s bare feet peeked out from the end of the blankets, and Feliciano made a small moaning sound, but stayed asleep. Ludwig stumbled out of the bedroom and down the front staircase to the living room, laying Feliciano down on the sofa, propped up against pillows. Feliciano opened his eyes briefly and Ludwig gave him a warm glance, but then Feliciano’s eyes closed immediately and he snuggled unconsciously into the blanket.
Ludwig turned the heater on and ran back upstairs, grabbing the remaining bed sheets, the towels on the floor and anything else he guessed Feliciano had been using and tossed them down the laundry chute. Next he opened the window to air out the room, took the tray in hand and went back downstairs in search of clean towels he could heat up.
All the while Feliciano remained asleep on the couch, barely moving save for a cough or a soft groan. His right-foot toes poked from underneath the duvet, twitching slightly. Ludwig returned to the living room, glanced at the darkened hearth and wondered if he could start a fire.
“I don’t even know where the firewood is kept,” Ludwig murmured to himself. The house seemed overbearing and cold without Feliciano’s cheerful presence to give it life; it was if Ludwig had never realized how big the house was before.
“Mmm... Ludi?” a soft voice said right as Ludwig was about to leave for the kitchen. Ludwig was immediately by Feliciano’s side, stroking the Italian’s forehead.
“Yes, what is it?” Ludwig asked. Feliciano opened his weary eyes and looked up at Ludwig, chest heaving with each breath.
“I don’t feel good,” Feliciano murmured. Ludwig gulped but continued his caresses.
“I know, Liebling, but you’ll feel better soon,” Ludwig responded. Gino was sitting at the foot of the sofa, tail swishing back and forth, his big brown eyes wide and sad. Even Elio looked concerned when he appeared beside Gino, giving Gino a reassuring lick to his ear. Gino mewed and rubbed against the base of the sofa, eventually hopping up into the nest of blankets that housed Feliciano.
“No, I mean... my head,” Feliciano murmured. He groaned and closed his eyes, wincing and scrunching his shoulders. Frowning, Ludwig laid the back of his hand to Feliciano’s forehead—and moved it away as if he’d been burned.
“Feliciano, you’re burning up,” Ludwig said, and he jumped to his feet, grabbed one of the towels, ran it under the tap and came back over to the invalid in the bed, pressing the cold compress to Feliciano’s forehead. Feliciano stroked Gino’s ear as Gino rubbed against his arm, mewing out of concern for his owner.
“Does this feel better?” Ludwig asked, pushing Feliciano’s sweat-matted hair behind his ears.
“Mmhmm,” Feliciano said as his eyes closed. Gino curled up between Feliciano’s side and arm, laying his head on Feliciano’s forearm. Elio remained at the foot of the bed, watching the entire scene with his golden eyes. Gino nuzzled the crook of Feliciano’s elbow and gave a soft mew as Feliciano laid back, his eyebrows creasing in pain.
“Keep this cold towel on your forehead,” Ludwig instructed as he stood, heading back into the kitchen. Feliciano said nothing in response, only giving a soft whine. Ludwig tossed a handful of hand towels into the microwave for a few seconds and then brought them to Feliciano, sliding them underneath his swollen joints and underneath his lower back. Elio had joined Gino at Feliciano’s side, watching Ludwig with curt eyes. Ludwig wasn’t too fond of Elio, since Elio wasn’t too fond of him, but the cat seemed to be giving Ludwig some sort of begrudging approval of his actions.
Ludwig then ran down to La Casa Romana’s basement to throw all of the linens from Feliciano’s bedroom into the wash, and went bounding back upstairs so he could finally sit in peace beside Feliciano.
The Italian opened his eyes and smiled as Ludwig approached, holding a new mug of tea for Feliciano. He sat on the ottoman beside the sofa, pushed up so his calves were pressed against the base of the sofa and placed the mug on the coffee table, using his free hand to remove the cloth from Feliciano’s forehead.
“ ‘M sorry you had to do all that,” Feliciano murmured. He groaned as he shifted, pushing himself up slightly and opening his eyes a bit wider. “I’m sorry you have to take care of me.” His voice was hoarse and low, sounding so unlike himself that it made Ludwig shiver.
“Do not apologize, Liebling,” Ludwig said, pressing his lips to Feliciano’s forehead. “I really do wish you would have told me sooner, I can’t believe you kept this such a secret from me.” Feliciano pressed his palm against Ludwig’s cheek, tracing down his face, his throat, his shoulder and arm until he came to rest in between the German’s fingers, squeezing gently and bringing the hand to his lips. He laid soft nips against each knuckle, laying the hand against his chest and snuggling against Ludwig as close as he could manage.
“Roma… he left?” Feliciano murmured. Ludwig nodded against Feliciano’s forehead, bringing his free hand around to cup Feliciano’s cheek and sigh into his blazing skin.
“Good,” Feliciano said. “He needs Antonio.”
“Don’t… don’t you mean Antonio needs him?” Ludwig asked, opening his eyes to gaze down at Feliciano’s pale face. Feliciano rocked his head back against the pillows and gazed into Ludwig’s eyes, his own bright and round and searching.
“No, he needs Antonio more than Antonio needs him right now,” Feliciano whispered, tightening his grip on Ludwig’s hand. “Just like Kiku needs Heracles and Arthur needs Alfred and… and you need me.” The Italian’s voice quieted to a slight, whispering waver as he struggled to take deep, slow breaths. He coughed a bit, closing his mouth against it and wincing as he did so but he remained staring upwards, rubbing Ludwig’s thumb with his forefinger.
Ludwig could feel a slight tremor in his bones, but he tilted Feliciano’s head back a bit more and kissed him as gently as he could muster, right on his swollen lips. Feliciano blanched in surprise, pulling back a bit to regain his breath but then allowed Ludwig to continue, enjoying the familiar taste of Ludwig’s lips and the feel of his tongue against his own, the way Ludwig took to nibbling on his upper lip and moving to the corners of his mouth as if marking his territory completely.
Feliciano released his hand from Ludwig’s and clapped it to the side of Ludwig’s face, digging his nails into the bigger man’s scalp and holding onto his blonde locks. Ludwig put both of his hands on either side of Feliciano’s face, careful to hold him gently and keeping a mental note in the back of his mind about how warm Feliciano’s forehead felt and how careful he should be. Even though Feliciano was ill the smaller man seemed to be suddenly full of life, when it came to kissing. Feliciano smiled into Ludwig’s tentative lips and elicited a soft pleasured sound, not quite a moan but something familiar and warm.
Without thinking, Ludwig climbed on top of Feliciano, straddling his thin hips with the duvet between them, curling his legs underneath Feliciano’s pitched knees and holding onto Feliciano as tightly as he could without breaking him. Both of them were losing themselves to sensation, Ludwig struggling to keep his head and Feliciano feeling so ethereal and light that he wanted to drown in the emotion Ludwig offered, oh he was so starved of Ludwig’s gentle touch. Ludwig released Feliciano’s face and instead trailed his fingers down Feliciano’s chest, settling against his throat.
“Mmm, Liebling,” Ludwig murmured, his heart slamming against his ribcage. He was as thirsty for Feliciano as Feliciano was for him, and just touching the smaller nation so tenderly was sending shivers of warmth throughout him—
And then, Feliciano stopped applying pressure to Ludwig’s lips and he sank back into the pillow, eyes closed, face flushed, his arms hanging off Ludwig’s shoulders limply. Ludwig leaned over him, staring at the Italian nation, trapped between desire and concern, when Feliciano’s eyes opened and he shook his head lightly, putting one hand against his forehead.
“Oooh… sorry, Ludi, I-I feel d-dizzy…” Feliciano murmured and his eyes shut again, his chest heaving. Ludwig licked his lips and placed his hands on Feliciano’s cheeks once more, rubbing circles with his thumbs. Feliciano opened his eyes to half-mast and gave Ludwig a weak smile. Ludwig smiled back and pressed his forehead against Feliciano’s, resting his nose on the tip of the other’s and just… touching.
“I love you,” Ludwig murmured. “Don’t ever hide something like this from me again.”
“Promise me, Feliciano. Promise.” Feliciano took a breath and nodded.
“I promise, Ludi. I love you, too.”
“Good,” Ludwig said, and he pressed a kiss to the bridge of Feliciano’s nose. The Italian wiggled with delight and curled up against Ludwig, allowing the German’s arms to fall around his narrow shoulders and wrap him into a tight embrace.
“I think it’s time to siesta,” Feliciano said against Ludwig’s collarbone. And for once, Ludwig complied.
-La Casa Romana is the name of the house that the Italies live in in Rome (that I made up). It means "The Roman House", roughly. Dipinto Villa is the name of Feliciano's house in Venice that I again made up. It means "Painted House/Paint House" very roughly.
-Recently Italy's PM resigned due to problems in the Eurozone and Italy has been having kind of a rough time. So rough in fact that there are debates as to whether Italy, Spain, Greece, and a number of other European countries will remain within the Eurozone, doing considerable damage to those nations' economies and devaluing the Euro. Basically, Europe is in a financial pit atm. But things are being worked out, very slowly.
-Headcanon dictates that when nation-tans are ill due to financial or country problems, human-developed medicine doesn't help but herbal, wholistic remedies help relieve some of the pain, hence the medicine that Romano had in the cabinet.