Chapter Six: The Ring
“See you guys later,” said _____ as she picked up her packed suitcase. Arthur smiled and opened the door for her.
“See ya’, _____.” Alfred gave her a quick hug before she walked out. She stepped onto the sidewalk in front of the house and walked down to the house directly to the right. She hopped up the front steps and knocked on the door, readjusting her grip on her suitcase.
The door swung open to a very happy Feliciano, who smiled at _____. “Buongiorno, bella! How are you this morning?”
_____, to her surprise, smiled back. “I’m good. You?”
“Wonderful!” he replied, closing the door behind _____ as she came in. “Ludwig didn’t make me go training with him, so I had plenty of time to make pasta!”
She tilted her head. “Training? For what?”
Feliciano opened his mouth to speak, but paused, then furrowed his brows in thought. “I don’t really know, actually. . . He just makes me and Kiku work out and calls it ‘training’.”
“Huh.” After a brief moment of confusion, _____ lifted her head to look around the relatively large, two-story house. “So, uh, where is my room?”
“Oh!” Feliciano then proceeded to lead _____ up the stairs. He took her suitcase from her hands, but after struggling with it for a moment, reluctantly handed it back to _____.
“Right here,” he said as he opened the door to her room. She looked inside and noticed that it was extremely clean, much like the rest of the house, but also decorated with neatly crocheted doilies on the table and drawers and frilly pink sheets on the bed. “I hope you like it, bella. I spent all day yesterday making it up for you.”
_____ set down her suitcase and ran her fingertips across the silk bedsheets. “Thanks, Feliciano. But I. . .don’t really like pink. . .”
“Oh?” He tilted his head, then his eyes widened. “Oh!” He darted over to the bed and began pulling the sheets off. “I'm so sorry, bella! I didn’t mean to use a color you don’t like! I just thought that, you know, since you’re a girl––”
_____ grabbed hold of Feliciano’s hand, making him stop. “Feliciano, it’s okay! I’ll live.”
Feliciano calmed down, but still looked a bit disappointed. “Are you sure, bella? You don’t mind?”
She laughed. “Hey, it’s okay. They’re just sheets. It’s not like you poisoned my food or anything.”
“Sì. . .Oh, food! I should get back to the pasta! Excuse me, bella!” He then turned and quickly left the room.
_____ smiled to herself. “He sure is strange,” she said. “But he’s really cute, and I like him already.” She looked up, as if to look up at Heaven. “I think you’d like him, too.” She brought her head back down and walked downstairs, taking a moment to scan the house for the kitchen and going in when she finally found it. “So, where are the others? And do you mind telling me who all stays in this house, while you’re at it?”
Feliciano jumped slightly when _____ started talking, but smiled and said, “Ludwig and Kiku are off training. And Lovino is with Gilbert, Toni, and Francis––ah, but Toni and Francis don’t stay here. Although, I don’t think fratello went willfully. I did hear him leave the house cursing. . .”
_____ smirked. “My guess is they dragged him out kicking and screaming.” She glanced at the stove. “Anything I can help with?”
“Sì!” He stepped aside to give her a spot beside him, which she then took. They both worked to finish the meal for lunch, Feliciano giving _____ a few pointers every now and again.
When _____ reached over to get the salt shaker, Feliciano caught sight of the small silver band on her left ring finger. He knew it was obviously not a wedding band (she was too young to get married anyway), but it did not look like the purity rings he had seen some girls on campus sport. “I like your ring, bella. What kind is it?”
“Hm?” _____ glanced at the ring on her finger. “Oh, yeah. It was a Christmas present from my. . .brother.”
“It’s very pretty.”
“Just like you.” Feliciano quickly leaned over and kissed _____ on the cheek, causing her face to go red. He smiled. “Sorry, sorella. I couldn’t resist.”
_____ blinked, and Feliciano began fixing the food again. After a moment she said, “Hey, Feli?”
His hand paused over the pepper grinder he was about to grab, and he let out a sweet sigh. “Sì, sorella?”
“What does ‘sorella’ mean?”
He beamed at her. “It means ‘sister’,” he said, his voice now calm and relaxed. “I just thought it would fit. But if you mind. . .”
“It’s fine, Feli.”
He let out another sigh, a soft smile forming on his lips. “I like when you call me that, sorella. My grandpa used to call me that. . .”
_____ smiled. “You liked you granddad, huh?”
“Oh, sì. I loved my grandpa. He was kind, charming, and he was very good-looking for his age.” They both laughed at this, then Feliciano made a sad smile. “I miss him. . .”
_____ was quiet for a moment, then said, “Tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. You can keep calling me sorella if I call you Feli.”
Feliciano smiled wide. “It’s a deal!” He took her hand and quickly shook it, then turned back to the meal in front of them. “Now, is everything done cooking?”
“Molto bene! And Ludwig and Kiku should be heading back now.”
“Yeah.” _____ patted his head. “But I don’t think we should wait on the others guys. I barely even know them, but I know already that they’re crazy little devils.”
“Not fratello,” said Feliciano. “Although he does get a little crazy when he’s mad sometimes.”
She put her hands on her hips. “I’d expect that.”
“Nice of you to drop by,” chided _____ at the Bad Touch Trio when they walked into the house. Lovino was the first to come in, managing to break free from Antonio’s grip and stumble into the house a good twenty feet from the door.
“Ja, well,” said Gilbert, fixing his hair. “Toni was slowing us down, talking to Bella for almost an hour. Who talks that long?!”
“I do!” said Antonio. “And she’d loved to talk to Lovino once in while, but he keeps running away.”
“I don’t run away, bastardo!” shouted Lovino. “I just don’t wanna talk to the cagna!”
The voice pierced through the room like a knife, and an overwhelming silence followed. Lovino looked at _____, blinking.
_____ held a stern gaze at Lovino for a moment, then turned toward the kitchen and said, “C’mon, you guys. Lunch is getting cold.”
Gilbert said goodbye to Antonio and Francis as they left, and joined _____ and Lovino into the kitchen to the dining table. Gilbert paused when he spotted something unfamiliar on the counter. He picked up the small item and examined it, then placed it his pocket with a slight smirk on his face.
“C’mon, Gil,” said _____ in a mocking voice. “Food’s ready.”
He rolled his eyes and took a seat at the table. The six of them––Gilbert, _____, Feliciano, Lovino, Ludwig, and Kiku–––all sat down for lunch.
“You two didn’t have to make such a large lunch,” said Ludwig as he grabbed the plate of wurst.
Feliciano smiled. “We thought since you and Kiku were out training that you’d like a big meal afterwards.”
“And having a meal with a lot of carbs after you work out is supposed to be good for you,” said _____, putting some pasta on her plate.
“Arigato. I appreciate your efforts,” said Kiku, a small smile on his face.
_____ and Feliciano smiled back. “You’re welcome.”
They all finished lunch, leaving only two pieces of wurst and a small portion of pasta left. Gilbert went back into the kitchen when _____ and Feliciano were cleaning up. He grabbed one of the leftover pieces of wurst and took a bite out of it. _____ placed a dish in the dishwasher and walked back over to the counter to get something, but froze when she realized it wasn’t there. She pushed nearby dishes and washcloths out of the way, but she still didn’t find it. She began frantically searching around the kitchen for it.
Feliciano noticed. “What’s wrong, sorella?”
“It’s not here,” she muttered to herself. “Where is it?”
“Where’s what, sorella?”
“My ring! It’s gone! I can’t find it anywhere!”
Feliciano quickly put down his dishtowel and helped her look. “What did you do with it last, sorella?”
_____ got down on her hands and knees, checking and double-checking the floor. “I-I left it on the counter when we were cooking so it wouldn’t get dirty.”
Feliciano joined her on the floor. “Maybe it just got knocked off onto the floor,” he said, trying to stay positive.
Gilbert noticed the two and took another bite of wurst. “What’s got you two so worked up?”
Feliciano looked up at him. “_____’s ring is missing! We can’t find it anywhere!”
“Hm. Okay.” He finished off the piece of wurst and walked out of the kitchen.
_____ and Feliciano continued searching for another hour, but there was no sign of it. After that hour, as _____ checked the floor and counters for the umpteenth time, Feliciano sighed in defeat. “Mi dispiace, sorella,” he said quietly. “It’s gone. . .”
_____ stopped and looked at Feliciano, dumbfounded. “You’re giving up?”
He looked at her with a saddened expression. “It’s gone, sorella. I’m sorry. We looked everywhere.”
She paused, and lowered her head. Feliciano managed to get her to stand up and lead her to the living room, helping her sit down on the couch. She kept her face to the floor. She sniffed, and a few tears fell from her eyes. Feliciano sat beside her and rubbed her back.
_____ covered her face with her hands. “D-Dammit. . .”
“It’s okay, sorella,” said Feliciano, his voice cracking. “Don’t cry. D-Don’t. . .” His voice vanished as he, too, began to cry.
“Nein, bruder!” shouted Ludwig as he came into the living room.
“Aw, come on, West!” responded Gilbert, following Ludwig. “You totally need to––”
They both stopped at the sight of _____ crying on the couch.
“_____?” said Ludwig quietly. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“I-It’s gone. . .” she croaked out.
“My ring. . . ! The ring my brother gave me! I can’t find it anywhere. . . !”
Ludwig knelt down in front of her and placed his hands on her shaking shoulders. “_____, it’s alright. Where did you see it last?”
_____ quickly wiped her eyes. “I left it on the kitchen counter while we were cooking, but it just disappeared! Feliciano and I looked everywhere, but we can’t find it!”
Gilbert watched as Ludwig attempted to calm _____ and Feliciano down, a pang of guilt echoing in his chest. He reached down into his pocket, his fingertips touching the small object he had snatched off the counter earlier. He backed up a bit and tried to subtly toss the ring onto the floor.
“Hey,” he said, the others turning to face him. He bent down and picked up the ring. “Is this it?”
_____’s eyes widened as she caught sight of her ring. She jumped up from her seat and rushed over to Gilbert. He handed her the ring, which she slipped back onto her finger, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Gilbert laughed. “Okay, okay! You’re welcome.” He patted her on the head and turned around to leave the room. “Well, I’m done here.” He left the room and headed down the hall to his room. He reached his room, sighing as he flopped down on his bed.
He jumped, then smirked at his brother. “Ja, West?”
“You had her ring the whole time, didn’t you?”
Gilbert blinked. He examined the glare his brother was giving him, then sighed. “I just wanted to play a little game of keep-away. I didn’t know she would break down crying.” He rubbed the back of his head. “Why did she act like that, anyway? It’s just a ring.”
“It’s not just any ring,” said Ludwig. “It was a ring her brother gave her. Alfred told me that her brother committed suicide three months ago.”
“Gott,” he breathed out. “Why?”
Ludwig shook his head. “Apparently, he und _____ got into a fight that morning.”
Gilbert looked down at the floor. “Verdammt.” He rubbed the back of his head again.
“I told you only because I don’t want you to do anything else that would hurt her.” Ludwig turned around to leave. “Und bruder?”
“None of what has been said here leaves this room. Am I clear?”
Gilbert blinked. “Um, ja.”