Character(s): Austria, France, the Mozarts, Maria Theresa, and various other members of her court.
Summary: A young Mozart visits and plays for the court at Schonbrunn. Austria is a little less than impressed.
Disclaimer: I do not own either Axis Powers Hetalia, nor do I claim to. The following is a work of fiction.
It was raining the evening the two Mozart children first came to court. Austria could hear it twanging against the windows beneath the sigh of the violin and the tippa-tippa-tip of the clavier, cracking the sound of the music with its sword-sharp fingers. The grown-ups sat enthralled, and the children swung their feet politely. France leant in close to him.
“You are absurdly jealous.”
Austria snorted. “They are children,” he whispered.
France was smirking, he knew. He did not have to look. “That is why it is absurd.”
Austria’s eyebrows drew together above his slender nose. “They are human children, France. They will die and their fingers shall fall stiff and decay. It is of no importance to me how skilled they are now. I can only improve.”
“What a sensible outlook, my dear,” said France.
The tinkling tune ended, and the imperial family roared to its feet. “Bravo! Bravo!” Franz Stephan cried, and the children turned to face their audience and bowed. The younger child, the boy, was grinning ear-to-ear. He elbowed his sister in the waist. Stubbornly, she ignored him.
“Did you hear that?” Theresa exclaimed from Austria’s other side.
“Indeed,” said Austria. We are in the same room, he thought.
“A genius!” she remarked, and France made an eager noise of agreement. Austria said nothing.
“Cover the keys!” called out Franz Stephan, who was scarlet-faced and appeared to be quite excited. “Bring a sheet to cover the keys, let us see what this little boy miracle can do!”
Austria scoffed, and France laughed.
A servant hurried to oblige, spreading a cloth across the keyboard. The boy took his seat at the instrument again, and slipped his small, white hands beneath the heavy material. His sister turned away, stepped back to stand beside her father, who laid one hand on top of her head, and held it there.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake –”
“Wagenseil, oui?” France said softly, his lips close to Austria’s ear. “He plays so skilfully, yet he cannot see his hands or the keys he touches – such prodigious talent –”
Austria flinched away.
“I do not need a narration,” he said.
“Could you play with the keys covered?” France asked.
“Of course,” Austria snorted, “child’s play.”
France smiled widely, his eyes narrowing. “Ah! Such wit! My husband is so very, very amusing –”
“Hush!” said Theresa.
The boy played and he played. He played a whole concerto. The audience was in raptures. Austria folded his arms and crossed his legs. By the time the child ended the performance (with a flourish and a loud smack to the keys), the family were once again on their feet, their hands red and raw from applause.
“Inspired!” Franz Stephan was crying, “Genius! A wonder! Bravo, bravo!”
“Didn’t I tell you?” Joseph Benedikt was shouting, seemingly to no-one in particular, “What did I say? The boy is a miracle!”
Theresa, her hand upon her breast and her cheeks alight with joy, raised a hand above the noise. “One hundred ducats!” she called, “One hundred ducats to Herr Mozart! Thomas, bring these children coats!”
Leopold Mozart was presented with the lilac and navy embroidered clothing that had once belonged to the Empress’ children. He smiled in thanks, whilst his daughter peered shyly up at the servant from beneath her father’s elbow. The boy ran from his place beside the clavier, almost tripping poor Thomas, and flung himself into Theresa’s lap.
Austria leapt to his feet, wrapping his coat around him as he held out a hand. “Come along, little boy,” he said, “such behaviour is improper.”
The child just grinned wickedly up at him, wrapped his short arms around the Empress’ neck, and kissed her on both cheeks. The woman just laughed, and stroked his hair, before kissing the boy back on the forehead. France stood up too, and placed a hand upon Austria’s shoulder.
“A delightful child, non?” he said, and to Herr Mozart, “They are both very wonderful. You must be very proud, monsieur.”
“Indeed I am. Thank you, sir.”
France slid his hand downwards and squeezed Austria’s upper arm to prevent him from leaving. “A toast, oui? To the Mozarts!”
Drinks were brought into the hall quickly. The boy slid from the Empress’ embrace, grabbed the Archduchess Antonia by the hand, and pulled her across the shining floor. Spots of gold winked back from the light of the chandeliers, upwards to the gold ceiling.
“That child ought to learn some manners,” Austria murmured, sipping his wine.
“What use are manners,” snorted Francis derisively, waving a long, elegant hand again. His rings flashed beneath the candles.
“You would say that,” Austria replied, and drained his glass.
The children raced across the polished floor, giggling and shoving one another. Austria stepped aside quickly as the Mozart boy came charging towards him like a wild horse.
“Mind yourself, my dear,” France said, and put an arm around his back. Austria shrugged it away.
“You must come back,” the Empress said to the proud father.
“It would be our pleasure, your highness,” said Herr Mozart, with a deep bow.
Across the room, there was a sharp slap as the glorious son slipped and fell hard onto his right knee. His face crumpled with pain – his cheeks puffed out – and a row of little white pearly teeth emerged to snap down on his red lower lip.
The Archduchess Antonia stopped, turned, and went to help him up, smiling beatifically. The boy’s face evened out, and he beamed once more.
“I shall marry you when I grow up,” he said, and the grown-ups laughed.
“You must admit he is an amusing boy,” France said, softly.
The candlelight glowed against the chandeliers and the mirrors and the windows and the shining floor and the golden ceiling.
“His little party trick was indeed highly amusing,” said Austria. “Very funny. I shall retire now. Ladies, gentlemen.” And he bowed. And he left the room.
When France passed by his spouse’s rooms later that night, he stopped and pressed an ear to the door. Silence. He twisted the doorknob, and peered inside. They were empty. He kept walking down the corridor, and as he did so, he heard strains of music; fast piano music. The sound grew louder as he approached Austria’s private music room towards the end of the hall. The door was open, just a crack. He glanced inside, just to check. Austria was sat at his piano. His eyes were closed and his glasses were off and his cravat was pulled loose and rumpled. And a heavy white sheet lay like an old corpse across the keyboard.
There was a jangling, discordant sound as the other nation hit a bad note – and then another as he gritted his teeth and smashed a fist against the keys.
France backed away, and went to his own suite. The music continued, the same tune, over and over again, and it did not stop until long after he fell asleep.