From Canada to Spain
It was a week before the next World Conference was to start and Antonio was spending it walking among his people. Like always, it was a bright day in his beautiful Barcelona, and his lovely citizens filled the many cafés that lined the streets. Liveliness was a given and the sounds and smells traveled well throughout the streets; not one person would walk among the colors and sights without a smile etched into their cheeks and eyes.
Yet Antonio could not focus on the sweetness in the air nor the greetings that rang in his ears; he was strangely concentrated as he looked for the Nation he had felt earlier in the week. He did not ignore the jovial people with their loud and booming laughter, but neither did he stop like he would on any other day. He nodded and smiled and waved, but it was obvious that he was not in a "stay and chat" mood. Antonio was, of all things, the exact opposite.
His anxiety-ridden pace was the end in a very complicated equation. At the beginning of the week he had sensed another Nation entering his own. However, the fact of this would not have gave him chills but for two small details: Everyone would be together at the World Conference in France soon enough - there would be no need for any of his fellow Nations to visit - and the Nation in gave him the feeling that it was either Captain Eyebrows or Francis.
Antonio slowed his pace to an exhausted halt. He rubbed the back of his head and tried to refocus on the Nation's energy, relying on his centuries old knowledge in search for where, and more importantly who, they could be. The Nation felt oh-so familiar in the way England or Francis was, but Antonio had made sure England knew better than to visit unannounced and Francis wouldn't dare to leave his home with a Conference - and impending headache - in the works so soon.
Sadly the Nation evaded him another time and Antonio picked his route up again, this time making a beeline towards the nearest place with seats. He had managed to narrow in on Barcelona just the day before - Valencia and Madrid being his first picks in the start of his budding curiosity - but now he could not pinpoint the feeling any closer than what was, more or less, blatant tourist attractions.
However, when the mystery was finally solved, Antonio wouldn't be too sure if it was the answer he wanted.
A glance was all it took: a simple turn of the head, a flick of the eyes. But that moment lead to his whole body freezing as an unnatural chill whispered down his spine. Antonio, in one of the few times in his long life, felt cold. Not the hollow feeling of defeat at the hands of a hated enemy, yet it was neither the true feeling of temperature. Antonio just felt as if ice encased his lungs, his heart, his blood and it would not thaw; not with passion nor with heat.
It was such a simple cause, too. All he had noticed was a young woman. She looked as others looked, all light skin and light hair like many others there; in a café that meant to scam non-natives and natives alike. But Antonio could see it, the sheer difference she carried. While women just as light and just as beautiful roamed the streets, her beauty was that of a landscape and not of a human. It was of snow-capped mountains and sprinkled stars rather than gleaming smiles and dotted freckles.
She was his uncounted for Nation.
Antonio, frantic as ever, dipped his eyes to her hair, to her clothes, to her hands, to her skin. This woman had the air of both England and Francis; the regal air England tried so hard to manufacture seemed to cling to the air around her and the softness of her presence nearly vibrated with a "let love, love" feeling Francis always strived for. She was them both, yet neither; a sweet combination of the twos' greatest traits.
He nearly rubbed his eyes, sure that he was just dreaming. Antonio could have never seen it being her, though it was so obvious at the same time.
She held a tea cup in her hands, her fingers keeping it aloft by just the tips. Her legs were crossed, the right gently over the knee of her left, her hair in a high ponytail. Antonio had no eye for fashion but his French friend would most likely be impressed: rich green sandals, gold shorts, and an off-shoulder ruby shirt that fit her like a glove. Antonio could practically hear his friend's low and appreciative whistle and nearly turned his head to see before he remembered where he was, what he was doing, and that he was alone.
The thought snapped him out of his, admittedly creepy, trance. Antonio flushed, a light pink nearly invisible against the tinted shade of his skin, and ducked into the café's open door. He hoped that the café's awning was a good shield to hide his loitering, but he waited inside just long enough to be a second too late.
When Antonio stepped through the door, the woman outside narrowed her eyes in disbelief. While her features were soft, her eyes were anything but: they were crystallized gems awaiting their turn to cut diamonds into the shapes they craved.
She stood, quickly, and gathered her things with nimble fingers set at an unhurried pace. If she moved a second too fast, someone would notice; they would see her frantic eyes, would see the clench of her jaw, would see that she was not supposed to be there.
The woman gracefully pivoted on her feel and set off from that stand - she needed to be somewhere, anywhere, that was not there and fast. However, it seemed that fate was against her and wished to scorn her that day for Antonio was out the door in that same second with the full intention of getting her to tell him who she was. Antonio had never seen her at the World Conference, or any other meeting for that matter, and had to know if this was the end or the beginning for the rest of them.
He never got passed ten feet.
Antonio called out to her, hoping that any exclamation would slow her down, and it did. Just not in the way he expected her to.
Instead of stalling or coming to a dead stop, the woman whipped back around, words alight on her tongue that never made it to Antonio's ears. She spoke alright, but her accent was drowned out by the sudden roaring static that he heard, an absolute noise that muted everything.
It was all in her eyes. They were azure, cobalt, violet, lavender, periwinkle, green, grey - they were every color clashing together. Storm clouds and mountain tops, glaciers and wild flowers, forests and deserts; her eyes beheld history Antonio hadn't ever thought about.
Humanity had the sweet dream of eyes being the windows to the soul. This was a partial truth that the Nations themselves held dear: their eyes conveyed their land and their people, the sacrifices they had made and the wars they had won. She was, she had, to be a Nation.
But, even after she left with a huff and no backward glaces, Antonio couldn't help the feeling that reached far back into his own past. Couldn't help the feeling that he had seen those eyes somewhere before.
A small, blonde head poked out shyly from its place in the arms of Antonio's longtime friend, Francis. Antonio wished so dearly to coo over the awaited colony, but his precious tomate refused to let him touch Francis' charge. Little Southern Italy had said that New France would get "even more messed up" if Antonio were to hold him.
Still, it was a time to bond and celebrate. Francis had finally brought his new charge over and the excited Frenchman was ecstatic to show him "the most adorable colony that would put nasty old Eyebrows to shame" and then some. Honestly, even though Antonio was always happy and ready to shove something great in England's face and declare he could never have it, the Spaniard was excited to meet the new Nation.
In fact, when little Matthieu was brought out in the arms of his greatest friend, Antonio was positive even his hot-tempered Romano was interested in meeting the new Nation. New France would be the closest to his physically age, and though Romano would never admit to wanting such a companion, curiosity gnawed at him from the inside-out.
So Francis brought forth his colony, all grand gestures and dramatic flair, over to meet Antonio and his own charge, they were both confused and shocked at what laid so still in the European's arms.
There, as fair as the man whom held him, was a small body draped in white. A little angel Romano would whisper in his mind before he would dig up any sort of distaste for him while Antonio breathed a hushed question to Francis; had he found a cherub in the new land?
Francis would laugh, delighted in his friend's question, and respond that New France was truly a new Nation and not a holy image. Never in this transaction did New France speak, not once, but Antonio got enough just from the boy's eyes.
Antonio saw so much potential there - there was so much room to stretch, so much land unexplored or uninhabited. It was almost a ritual to guess what newer colonies would grow to be but Francis and Antonio could guess nothing less than "everything".
Yes, New France had the capability to transform into everything.
Madeline was back at the hotel she picked out when she first came to Spain, her breath catching almost every time she paused to draw a breath. Her sweet Kumarie was curled up on her pillow, exactly the same as when she left to see the sights the "Country of Passion" had to offer her, but she herself had came back with a different light.
She was sure, at the time in that wonderful square, that the man she had seen was Spain. Sure, it had been years since she'd last seen a good close look at his face, but Madeline was no fool; she could tell a Nation apart just as well as her brother could.
Now, Madeline sat immobile in her room, her heart slowed to its steady thump while she cursed herself in every language she knew for reacting in such a way. It was almost shameful how she fled; both the first and second times.
Madeline had long convinced herself that a brunette with green eyes in Spain of all places should be, and was, common. That he could have been both a tourist or a native who simply took a liking to her - years in solitude could have easily given her some confidence issues, right?
But she knew the myth, Madeline remembered it well. Remembered how the eyes were practically a gateway and how his almost glowed with intensity, with a bone-deep sense of history only veterans could ever hope to obtain. That man, that Nation, knew warfare just as well as any Empire, who knew hunger and starvation and sickness.
Madeline cut off her train of thought there and simply left it as a flight or fight sort of instinct and that it was not going to interfere with anything. How could it, anyway? Madeline was positive that while Spain may know what she was, there was no doubt in her mind that he knew who she was. She wasn't too sure if that was a comfortable thing to hold and declare as her own, but she didn't really have much else to call hers.
Madeline sighed and rolled back on her bed, her eyes drilling holes into the ceiling above. She had spent a week in Spain and was ready for the next country and a smile stretched her lips in fond memories as she thought of the Nation in question.
'It's been a very long while. I hope it's still as beautiful as always.'