|At the end of the world
Author: FanSlewFantasy PM
DenxNor romance fic. Subtle yaoi themes. Denmark and Norway take a small winter trip together to the north, to the beach where they met. T to be safe. ONESHOTRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Denmark & Norway - Words: 7,742 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 14 - Published: 08-23-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7315503
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
~AT THE END OF THE WORLD~
A Hetalia Axis Powers Fanfiction*Presented by FanSlewFantasy 2011
I love this pairing so much… its so cute and pure, I think. That and denmark is so much fun. XDi don't own hetalia, or the characters, or anything much. Also, apologies in advance if there is any problem with the Danish in this fic. Its not mah first language, yo.
It's not that special.
I've seen it all my life. Every year with the changing seasons, without fail: snow.
After a couple of hundred years it grows boring. The same whiteness, the same darkness, the same blank spaces. The same cheerful melancholy when you tip-toe through banks of it powdering beneath the heals of slick black leather boots. The footsteps you leave behind are uniform and curt, the follow obediently like a classy butler.
'Tea this evening sir?'
'No thanks. Hot chocolate with a dash of liqueur, to warm me up.'
'Very good sir.'
You don't pay them any heed, but dully you remember the time you did. A child wrought in wonder, nose tipped cherry red and crouched hip high in white to inspect the flawless imprints left behind.
His hand had chided me kindly then, taking me firmly by the scruff of my clothing, grip finding purchase in the coarse furs. Berwald had strode beside him, face firm and solemn, bearing all our things on his wide shoulders. We didn't have much. When the wind rose and blustered freshly, the things jingled and clanked. Some weapons, a bag of coins, a faggot of wood for fire. Flakes of ice lit in his short, pale blonde hair and unfocused eyes, unmarred by glasses then, fixed loosely on the blurry horizon. It was hard to see what he was thinking. When he left us, it was I who bore the load.
There's no load to bear now, as I reflect on my chilly youth and pass my ticket to the train conductor. He clips it neatly with a strange, dull grey-silver tool, and passes it back with a polite, impersonal smile.
"Det var så lidt." he passes me by and beckons to the man behind me to hand over. I sniff dryly, and settle in my seat. Outside the window, the snow is piling up. A warmthless blanket, not so comforting. I find myself feeling rather dull and depressive during January anyway, but it seems especially bad this season. The monotone heartbeat of the train wheels chopping ice crusted tracks doesn't help. Counting down. One, two, three, and a soft scream, barely audible, from the machinery that hitches the train to the lines. One two three scream. One two three scream.
I wonder distantly if the man driving the train knows there is something wrong there, but decide I don't really care in the end. I'm getting off at the next stop anyway, and as heartless as it sounds it's not my train. I won't be the one getting headaches for a month if it crashes.
Sighing, I drag myself to my feet. The air in the cabin is hot and a warm filmy sweat breaks on my shoulders under the many layers of clothing I wear. My scarf falls loose over my shoulder, and I stand on my toes to reach my suitcase on the rack above me. I still cant reach.
"Har du brug for hjelp?" a tall teenager sitting at the far end of the cabin looks up from his magazine, he wears ski-goggles and a violet bomber jacket over a large grey sweater. It looks well on him, I decide, but I just cant pull off winter clothing. It always makes me look like a marshmallow. A clumsy, fat marshmallow with arms and legs and a perpetual scowl. I smile, deciding I don't like how bright and even his face is. It's too much like that of the man I am soon to meet.
"Nej, tak. Jeg har det fint." I manage to hook my finger into the handle. The intercom dings.
Næste station, København H.
With a thump I pull my luggage on top of me and struggle down the aisle of the train to the door. The blue carpeted floor shudders beneath me, and the effort beads new sweat, scentless and uncomfortable, in my underarms and along my hairline. The train slides and screams and shudders to a halt. The doors scrape open and a blast of icy wind rolls right in. I step out. Look left, look right…
"Norge!" The man assaults me from behind, shockingly loud and large. Somehow, he has gotten between me and the train. The mind boggles as to how, and the doors clap close again without any empathy for me standing stock still in the middle of a wet winter station, being rape-hugged by a man twice my size and half my intelligence. I draw a deep breath, a dancing winter ghost flirts from my lips as I exhale. I force myself to smile tightly.
"Matthias. Hej. Enthusiastic greeting as usual then."
"Of course! I can like you most of all, Norge. You're my favourite." He clicks his tongue and steps around me eagerly. I get my first glimpse of him in a while and think briefly that he hasn't changed. But then again, no-one changed much these days. Ever.
In the winter he always wore his black coat. Since as long as I can remember. I don't know what it is made of, some kind of felt like material that had been around since the stone age? But I know that it always carries this smell. A smell like honey and ashes and something else that im sure is the reason the chill never pulls that smile from his lips. The coat blusters in the flurry of crisp air howling into the station, the red shirt he wears underneath is visible only in the sleeves where the gloves don't cover. A big black scarf fills the collar. His hair is damp, but still flicked and wild, crowned with a neat little hat and a salting of snowflakes. Blue eyes glitter in youthful glee, his smile is charming.
"Ready to go with the next train?"
It takes me a few seconds to notice his suitcase, a large red leather affair, the latches shiny and new. I press my lips into a bloodless line and nod.
"Great, here's your ticket."
"Where are we?" I ask him in a low whisper, the sign above the carriage door reads 'Tavse Zone', and the conductor stalking the aisles does not look like a friendly man.
"We cross the bridge to Jylland soon." He looks up from his novel and scratched his chin. "Are you okay? You look a little ill."
I swallow the strange taste in my mouth and settle back in my seat a little more cosily. It is nice on this train. Spacious and air conditioned. Temperate enough for me to take my scarf off even. Outside the window the world twinkles by in rolls of white and glittery fog. Ice crystals web glassily across the window pane, giving it a glamorous, cracked look. I press the back of my hand against the cool surface and hiss. The cold is dry and unbelievable. My touch fogs the glass.
I pull back and wrap my chilled fingers in the hem of my puffy blue coat. He clicks his tongue, and runs his palm over my shoulder affectionately. The fabric makes a soft crinkling noise.
"Are you checking that it's so cold as it looks?"
That warm hand, gloved in supple black leather, brushes the nape of my neck. It slithers around me and draws me close into the crook of his arm. I fix my gaze firmly on the window and the scenery passing me by rather than acknowledge the action. My body seizes up, I remain statue still when he goes back to reading his book. I hate it when he does such blunt things. Truly.
My stomach gurgles, and I think back on the last time I ate, as a distraction. It must have been earlier this morning in Sweden. Five am maybe? The clock reads 11.30 now. No wonder I am so hungry. The Ryvita and small sliver of fish that had been on offer in the 7/11 at the station was atypical Swedish fare I suppose, but I really could have gone for something warm or fattening. Something to keep me from trembling in hunger as well as frostbite by the time we arrive at our destination.
"Are you hungry?" he asks, and I jump. I hadn't realised the grumble had been so loud, and fling a hand to my stomach guiltily.
"Did you hear that?"
"of course I did. Will you have something to eat or not? I can get something for you, if you will."
"Er…" I turn my head and meet his eyes.
They are blue. Clear, mountain spring blue. With an other-worldly transparent quality that makes them glimmer with silver… they are cold, but also somehow warm. Full of delicate expectation, but so like a snowflake, you can watch them shatter to icy pieces when hurt.
"Um, yes. Sure. That would be great." I look away and study the carpet on the floor of our otherwise empty cabin. It is dark grey, and smooth. Unlittered.
"Okay. Wait a little." He nudges me up and slides to stand. He's a very tall man, especially beside me. His coat swishes and wafts an invisible spectre of perfume my way. I sniff it in unintentionally, and blush. "I should go to the bathroom, and so I can get you some food." His rumpled hair is combed through carelessly. His little hat slips but he readjusts it. "What can you like?"
"A cold drink, something sweet and maybe a sandwich."
"M'kay. I'm coming back." he strides smoothly and handsomely down the aisle, past the conductor sitting and reading a thick newspaper. His novel remains cast open in his seat he had left, the creases in the spine tell me he has read this particular book many times.
Den lille havfru, og andre dansk historier
Fairytales. I should have guessed.
The simplistic, sweet nature of his chosen reading material turns the corner of my lip up in small contentment, but doesn't last. I leave the book and return my attention to the world beyond my window. The weak blue-tinted sun waters weak light through the sky, a pale winter eggshell that promised rain, rather than snow. Sure enough, shy spatters of fresh rainwater are beginning to tick on the window glass. Gentle mists swirl on the grounds we pass over and I see, a split second before the darkness enfolds us, the train is heading for a tunnel. The lights inside flicker on, and they are harsh and orange and unpleasant to look at. Blackness is all I can see outside, and the feeling of moving at a tremendous velocity through the bowel of a great dark earth makes my empty stomach clench. Claustrophobia sets in, I tighten my fists in my lap and think for a split second of weakness that I wished Matthias was here to hold my hand.
The thought is dismissed immediately. I close my eyes, so I needn't see the smothering, frozen blackness outside.
"Hey, Norge?" after what may have been thirty seconds or an hour, a hand brushes against my forehead and a familiar smell curls in my nostrils. "Are you sleeping?"
"No, I'm awake." I crack open my eyes a little, and gaze at him through the blur of lashes. We are still in the tunnel, I notice, so I cant have been out for so long. "Where's my food?"
Sighing, he sits down and offers me four small items in his hands. "The chocolate is for me. but the others is to you."
I take the frosted bottle of Faxe Kondi and cucumber ryebread sandwich wrapped in plastic, but leave the fat strawberry cream cake in his hand next to his can of chocolate milk. I can feel the plastic bottle has been chilled, condensation wets the palm of my hand and beads down my wrist.
"Thanks. Can you hold the cake for me, until I've eaten the sandwich?"
"May I eat some?" he asks. Good to see his tremendous taste for anything with cream or strawberries was unchanged from the last time I saw him.
"Not all of it. But I suppose you can have a taste."
With a satisfied hum he settles back, and I crack open my bottle of drink with a hiss. The train bullets out of the tunnel and my eyes take a second to adjust to the flood of brightness. He isn't bothered, settling back down with his book.
Feeling an unjustified unease, I too come back to rest leaning against his shoulder and craning my neck, hoping to get a glance at the impending bridge. My soda, when I take a mouthful, is a little too fizzy. I screw the lid back on and let it fall to my lap, where it wets my jeans, and unwrap my sandwich.
When the buttresses of the harsh steal bridge loom in my view, I hesitate to take a bite and sit up a little straighter, heartbeat lifting.
Because this part that always, always made me feel like I was about to step into oblivion.
There's something about sailing of the edge of an island, into the wild yonder of space, at 200kmph. Charging with a clatter of tracks and rails onto the bridge my breath catches silently, my hand resting on his leg tightens, gripping the black fabric of his trousers. Beyond, stretching endlessly far below, the ocean fraught and frigid with chopping ice.
How to describe the dull white light of the horizon melting into the sea, cloaked by cool clouds and pinpricked silver by blooming drizzle? The curving spine of black stones neatly packed along the not-so-distant shore were slicked tary and snowless, a dark stroke through the virgin landscape. It was so cold that the scene trembled. It was like being on the edge of the world and gazing hopelessly into emptiness. Like nothing exists but the very hem of planet earth and the body of the man backing me firmly, comfortingly, as we drove endlessly closer to that cusp.
"Scared?" he asks.
"Don't be. It's safe."
Privately, I sure hope so. The thought of cracking metal and crumpling iron makes me tremble, because beneath us now is a hard floor of ice and fathoms of cruelly cold ocean. He pulls me back from my edge of my seat position, there is cream on his lip from where he had taken a bite of my cake (I must have missed that, because I don't remember seeing him do so.)
"If you are scared, so say it. Don't be embarrassed by me."
"I'm not scared." I lie, taking a nibble from the corner of my sandwich. We are about halfway across the bridge now (oh god would it never end?) and cool sweat is beginning to prickle my shoulder blades and underarms. Beyond the black rock border of the other island, everything looks the same. Like an ocean of white waiting to consume me.
I press my lips together and swallow my mouthful. He sighs.
"May I read to you a story then?"
"… What one?"
"Which can you like?" He waves his book brightly. From the corner of my eye, the shore is not drawing any closer. If my heart rises any more, it will soon be beating in my mouth.
"…anyone is fine. Thanks."
Smiling contentedly, he flicks through pages, finds a spot, and begins.
"Will you have help?" he offers, and this time I relent, allowing him to pull my suitcase from the rack and drag it down the aisle of the train with his. I pick up the empty drink bottles as we go, dropping them in the recycling bin and making it back to his side in time for the doors to hiss open. The influx of cold air gets me head on. I shiver and hook an arm in his for warmth. Its easier to do, the further away I get from home. Less chance of being recognised. But still I bow my head as we step off. Just in case.
The air has that clear, crackly quality. You don't even notice is cold until after thirty seconds in the midst and you can no longer feel your nose or ears of fingertips. It is pregnant with darkness, though by the neon light of my digital watch it is only five thirty. Only one floodlight bathes the small, inconsequential station we come off at, and the next bus to our destination runs in half an hour. The small township we have stopped in is dead. At dusk here, like at home, the men bowed to the whim of the winter. Only the unwise were still out after dark. The skeletons of shrubs and low evergreen bushes tremble beneath the weight of powdery snow. At least the moon is out, it stains the scene an unnatural chrome colour. Everything sparkles as if cut from crystal, even the sweat on his brow.
"It's too cold." he observes, setting the suitcases down and unhooking my arms so he can embrace himself. "You look as though you are ice."
"You are shivering."
I gasp when warm hands dart from the folds of his coat to cup my face. They sweep my bangs aside and brush affectionately over my hairslide, which has fallen loose somewhere along the line and pulls uncomfortably on the roots.
"Your face is pink from cold."
It grows even pinker from embarrassment and I tighten my scarf around the bottom of my face. A soft wind ruffles my hair, whispering words in forgotten languages, stories not totally different from the tales he had told me on the train. Or the stories we had shared all those years ago. When we were family.
I sniff, unpleasantly sure my nose is running like a tap, but unable to feel if that is true. He laughs, and pets my hair, opening his coat and enveloping me in it before I can protest.
Of course, I struggle. At least, I struggle until I realise its warm. Not just that kind of 'swaddled in winter woollies but still chilled in the bones' warm, the kind of 'shorts and tee-shirt in the middle of summer' warm. As though, within that great black cloak of heavy cloth is a climate altogether separate from the world I'm standing in. my eyes widen in surprise and he buttons the coat neatly around both of us. It's only a little too tight.
His shirt crinkles beneath my hands, and his scent is overwhelming. Bordering on 'needs shower'. A strong, elegant nose nuzzles my hair, his arms wrap protectively around me. I stand rigidly in the calm, waiting for my ride and still occasionally shivering, despite his heat.
It is late when we finally arrive at the north shore on the intercity bus. I stir when he shakes me, unaware I had been dozing on his shoulder the whole trip, and silently he points out the window to the cobwebbing spill of city lights glimmering on the horizon. The small swell of earth we were peaking, the kind of hill most Danes would be inclined to call a mountain, gives a fair vantage point. Like a scatter of stars ricocheting from the heart of a galaxy, the winter town glows and winks at me. My sigh of delight fogs the window, its cold in the fluorescent white light of the bus.
As we enter the city and draw nearer to the station, I strain to see out the window to the snowy, lamp lit streets. There are still people about here, wandering down ancient cottage terraces and dining in the windows of beautiful bars and restaurants. They all radiate, wearing exceptionally stylish clothes and chattering excitedly as they pass us by or over take us. Ten kilometres per hour down ice slicked streets gives ample opportunity for looking. A few of the shops still have Christmas decorations in the windows, although it turned the New Year a few days since.
"Here." I jump in surprise when his hand darts forward and he presses the red 'stop' button in front of us. "Next stop we get off."
"Why? The station isn't so close is it?"
"No. but the next stop by the side of our lodge." He dragged himself up, though the bus was still moving, and tugged expectantly on my scarf. "It's a hotel, with a bar. We can eat dinner there tonight, if you will like. They make good potatoes…"
"I'm not hungry." I let him drag me to my feet and wander down the aisle unsurely, simply expecting him to take my luggage by this point.
"So cold, Norge."
We jerk and trip as the bus shudders to a stop a little from the city centre. I almost land in the lap of a sleeping, somewhat elderly lady wearing a purple beanie. He catches me, and slips his arm around my waist.
It's these little touches that shake me up the most.
"Matthias!" I hiss as the door slid open. "Don't!" a small sliver of emotion finds its unwelcome way into my voice. "Not where people can see!" I twist from his arm and stomp into the untouched pile of snow on the sidewalk. He clatters of the bus after me, dragging our luggage behind. His boots clomp heavily on the slippery ground. I kick my own neat black leather sheilas to get the caked snow off the toes and draw my coat closer around myself. I'm glad of the dark, it hides my blush.
"What's wrong?" he asks, clearly hurt. "I thought you had nothing against me touching you now."
"Yes, well, I do." I stuff my hands in my pocket, feeling a slight twinge of guilt considering how much touchey-feeling I had let him get away with up to this point. Maybe I am sending mixed messages.
Well, maybe I have mixed feelings! Things like this… one cant just accept them so fast. His moves were subtle but overwhelming. Sometimes I felt smothered by his favour.
Sighing, he brushes his hair flat. Not that it has any effect. His face looks almost worn in the bus headlights as it drives away, but when that light slides sideways and leaves only the weak shine of streetlamps to illuminate him, it is back to its normal youthful serenity. The expression he wears for always when he is with me.
"I'm sorry." He apologises humbly and adjusts his scarf. "Here, this is our hotel."
I blink and glance to the building we are in front of, only just noticing it.
It's like something straight from a Christmas card.
Nestled on the corner of the street, across the road from a closed Netto and right next door to a loud Irish pub, the hotel Kirstine is the kind of place that, despite its admirable scale, makes you feel all warm and cosy inside. dark red paint, almost totally covered by the drifts of snow scaling the walls ambitiously, is cheerful and warm. The black wooden beams that brace the building are atypical Danish, and the leaded windows shine and glimpse light in the way only that sort of grey glass does. Fairy lights are strung from the hatched roof, in fact the roof groaning beneath snow probably looks out of place here in summer, beside the supermarket and old brick shopping quarters. It strikes me as a country house someone had just plucked off the side of a farm in Tinglev and popped right so here in the middle of this urban street. A white picket fence trims the front garden, which bears three snow humps I assume are cars. He starts through the gates and the crunch beneath his feet sounds gravely, as though there are stones beneath the winter blanket on the short path to the door.
I hurry after him, almost tripping over a small evergreen shrub, and he holds the door open for me when we get there.
Inside it is just as charming.
We sit for a while in reception, dripping and warming quickly. He reads a few magazines and I study the lush cream carpet beneath my feet. The air conditioning in here must be a bomb to pay for, the heat is making me sweat. Like a furnace… I remove my jacket and scarf, and shake out my grey skivvy. Behind the reception desk a redheaded woman is finishing her phonecall.
At least the waiting room, adjacent to the bar I suspect, is cosy. The chandelier tinkling softly overhead is promising, in relation to the quality of the hotel.
I realise I'm longing for a shower, maybe a hot bath.
It is then the receptionist hangs up. She raises her head from her papers and smiles welcomingly at us.
Matthias grabs his reservation slip from his pocket and skips over, to be served.
"I think I'll go and get a drink. Will you with?" he has seen to it my things have been unpacked, my clothes hung neatly in the wardrobe and all, while I was in the tub. He looks tired, but it's only ten pm.
"No, I think I will stay here and read." Lie. I just don't trust myself to have drinks with him.
"Fine." He smiles weakly and leaves the room without complaint. I settle down on the end of my bed, clutching my complimentary bathrobe to my breast, and ponder.
What am I going to do?
The room we have is the definition of cosy. Small, red wallpaper, cream carpet, warm frosted light bulbs. The dressers and amenities are all old fashioned, and the whole space smells faintly of cinnamon and rose hips. Outside the window of thick diamond cut glass, stars are visible. Marshmallow snow frames the wooden sils. Roses had been supplied by the management, as decoration.
I stand and wander over to the dresser, on which my hat and hairbrush and clip now rest. There is a bottle of rum and some tumblers there, and though I don't drink rum I pour myself a dash, turn around with my hip resting on the furniture, and study the two beds.
He had gotten a two bed room.
Not that that was unusual, of course. We always got two beds, at my specific request. But it wasn't until I came in this room and saw the both of them I realised I forgot to ask him that this year. He had chosen the double suite by himself.
I should be glad of that.
I sip my rum and let it roll over my tongue bitterly. It warmed you up, I will give it that. The trickle was swallowed and I took another mouthful, before emptying the whole glass with a grimace and wandering to my bed once more. I collapse face forward into it. The doona is soft, and warm. Down, I imagine. Delicious.
I remember when I used to sleep in furs. Beneath the stars or in crude buildings. I cooked for him, I cared for him… he never gave me anything in return.
Mmm… maybe that's not true.
He always told me stories.
Matthias knows all the constellations. He knows all the names of all the gods, all the myths and legends and tales ever told in our lands. When summer evenings drew long, and the sun never quite sunk below the frayed horizon, his voice lulled me to sleep as he told of thunderous gods and icy mistresses. Of wars and pillages and astral travel. His language was rich and sweet for retelling these things. It was as though, those tales made his language. That was the sole reason for its existence. He told me stories as we lay side by side linking stars scattered like salt across the velvet of the sky. The furs we slept in were of fox or deer or hare, they smelled richly of a something scratched from the record of humanity long ago. The scent of survival, I suppose. Of wild primality and the man who wore coins on strings on his belt, right beside a neat and heavy axe.
I nuzzled my pillow, subconsciously trying to draw from it the perfume that escaped me, and scratched my way under the blankets still in my robe.
It was a long time ago. But also, it seems like just yesterday. Day by day, nothing ever changes. But to look back now I can see that really, nothing is the same.
The scent of bacon and coffee stirs me.
Puling myself from the folds and frills of sleep, I raise my head and blink. The soft ambient light filling the room is not temperate, all my warmth comes from the soft hum of an electric heater that someone had placed by my bed.
"Oh, good morning." Matthias clatters into the room in nothing but black flannel pyjama pants, toothbrush in one hand and foam around his mouth, like a rabid dog. He switches off the bathroom light behind him and I screw my face up, uncomprehending. What time had he gotten back to the room last night? I don't know. what was the chance of him being utterly drunk of his face when he did? About 100%. How was he not lying in bed and dying with a hangover squatting on his frontal lobe…
God only knew.
"Have you slept good?"
"Mm." I rubbed my temple where the press of that rum or whiskey or whatever-it-was was making itself known. "I suppose. When I've eaten something I should be fine." I sit up and look for the source of that smell, noting he had made his bed already. and his hair wet, from showering. "What's the time?"
"Maybe ten?" he shrugged and jammed is toothbrush in his mouth, while digging through his suitcase.
"Mph tht 'e kd oh toow a peth ewdah."
He holds up his finger in a 'wait a second' gesture, finds what he is looking for in the rucksack (a pair of jeans and a Football Club KBH shirt) and dashes back to the bathroom to spit.
"I thought we could go to the beach today. On a little tour." The sound of a tap being turned on hisses through the room, lifting his voice. "But take warm clothes. It's really cold outside."
"No shit." I murmur, slipping out of bed and wandering to the armchair on which my suitcase rested. My robe had slipped open during the night, I belt it back up and hunt for a pair of warm jeans and the cowl-neck sweater fin and Sweden had gotten me for Christmas. I haven't worn it yet; freakishly expensive New Zealand merino wasn't the kind of thing you wore every day, after all.
"What will you like to have for breakfast?" He reappears, looking more casual than usual in that particular outfit, and leans in the door frame to watch me search. "They have bacon, toast, cereal…"
"What did you have?"
"Strawberry spongecake and coffee."
"Of course you did." I find what I was looking for and wave him out of the bathroom door, so I could get in there and get changed. A light expression of confusion presses his lips into a firm frown and tugs his brows together.
"What? Embarrassed to take clothes on in front of me?"
I flush pink. He doesn't seem to care, and simply stands there idiotically blocking my way.
"I'm not undressing when you are in the room." I tell him. "Now move."
He does so, reluctantly, and I slam the bathroom door behind me to make a point. It smells like Matthias' deodorant in here, and I think not for the first time that I rather like the scent. It's different from his natural smell, and its not floral or fruity… its one of those airy metallic smells with a name like 'rush' or 'magnetism' or some similar sentiment.
Whatever. I get changed as fast as I can and run his hairbrush briefly through my hair. There are no dark circles under my eyes, which is a good sign. I must have slept really well last night. I remember my barrette is on the dresser, and bustle out of the bathroom to retrieve it and snap it firmly in place.
He's sitting cross legged on the end of his bed, my jacket in his lap, when I turn around.
"Done?" he inquires pleasantly. I nod, he stands up and stretches. "Good. So we go."
"Where do I get breakfast?"
"Downstairs. There's a big dining room."
"Alright." I relieved him of my coat and pulled it on. "Bring your jacket too. I can eat while we walk."
"Cold, not?" his breath huffs in mist, the question is awkward and redundant.
"right." I correct him and screw up my paper cup, still half filled with lukewarm coffee, before casting it into a bin outside the kiosk on the corner. "You mean 'cold, right?'."
On a Sunday morning, the streets are quiet. The church at the far end of the main road is wide open, but I doubt anyone had remained after the service. Soft swirls of dusty snow whipped up in the doorway as we passed by, the snow on the footpath was beginning to get muddy and sludgy from a hundred pairs of shoes churning, but judging by the slate grey columns of cloud approaching from the north, more snow would be falling by evening and washing away the dreary grey of a thousand footprints.
"Pretty church." I comment as we pass through the shadow and across the lawn toward the churchyard beside the beach. He hums, and glances skyward to the steeple.
"I don't go to church so often." We reach the gate in a low, ice crusted wall of stone, and he fumbles patiently with the latch. "It's only there for symbolic purposes."
He holds the gate open for me, and looks happy to do so. I sniff and look down to the thin path we are supposed to be following through. It is impossible to make out, weaving in and between the snowy plots.
The churchyard here was perfectly crooked, as though one day, god had planted a seed of stone and allowed the whole place to grow from the bedrock of the earth. Ancient grave markers capped in sleeping hats of white, bearing faded names and chipped and cracked to anonyminity. Skeletal trees and the occasional waxy evergreen grows wild throughout. A hardy winter ivy fabrics all that isn't grey or crystalline a dark, lush green. He closes the gate behind us, its wrought iron and squeaks when he swings it shut, before crunching to my side and offering me his arm. Its not so cold today, my jacket is serving its purpose satisfactorily and though my cheeks are numb I can still feel my nose. I decline, and start toward the far side. I'm not sure if he stays there for a while, with his arm held awkwardly, or if he stays on my heals until I turn around. Hands thrust deep in his pockets, lower half of his face buried in a blue scarf, today, he wiggles his eyebrows at me in the most blatantly resilient way I have ever seen. Short on patience, I click my tongue.
I'm beginning to get a little twitchy. Excitement? Fear? Mostly anticipation.
I tell myself to calm down and draw a good deep breath.
Side by side we trudge through the cemetery, I read the names of each legible stone we pass. The faces of long forgotten individuals escape me, just like they have escaped the memory of history, the names are meaningless when I mouth them quietly to myself. He doesn't seem bothered, that he's stepping over the bones of the people who were once his children. The dust of the men who cared for his home. They lay sleeping in the black petals of death and he lives on as a legacy of their lives and deeds.
I can't help but wonder what they were like, these corpses. When they were living and waking and human.
Were they much like him? With faces like the boy on the train, and an obsession with strawberry sweets? Did they tell each other stories, and share raucous drinks, and live loud and laugh and love?
Did they fight, reckless and under the impression they were immortal, conquering and impatient and all powerful, convinced they would live forever?
The thought made me shiver, because whoever they were, whatever they were like, they were dead now. As dead as the rotten wood cracking under my feet. As dead as the stones that marked their graves. Maybe all those stories and all that war became too much. Maybe they didn't have some poor spectator to listen, or carry their weapons, or put up with their wild, untameable obsessions that burn searing and fierce and terrible.
I realise I am kicking snow, it flies in furious arches ahead of me, my face is warm now, and scrunched into a scowl.
"Um, Norgie are you okay?"
"I'm fine." I snap, folding my arms across my chest. "Why? What makes you think something's wrong?"
"You look… upset."
"I'm not upset."
"Ah." He bites his lip and regards me for a moment, ceasing in his lilting walk "I forget, you're afraid of graveyards."
"I am not!" I assure him, a little more hotly than usual. "I just don't like them, is all."
They remind me of nothingness. Of the emptiness of existence, like an endless field of snow, and how eventually everything fades away.
He smiles and rubs his nose.
"Okay, Norge, I believe you." and despite my hiss of protest, he slings his arm around my shoulder and yanks me closer. We wander through the last of the graves like this, him humming a light little tune, me staring blankly at the gat ahead of us. The latch is broken on this one, it creaks eerily back and forth in the wind.
And then we are on the beach.
I don't think 'beach' is an appropriate name for the place, in winter. It's identical to any other snowy scene, except the snow on the ground here remains untrampled and virginal, as though the townsfolk saw no point in coming here until the spring. He sighs contentedly and releases my shoulder, stretching up as if to worship the sun almost eclipsed by dense grey clouds.
"So beautiful…" he says, not to anyone particular I don't think. Just more kind of to the earth in general, and the precipice of the planet on which we stand.
The light is not as bright as it was this morning, it has a dull, oxidized tone to it, but the air is sharp and everything seems more sensate than usual, from the wet grey rocks jutting along the shore to the boot prints he leaves behind as he tramps forward. It reminds me of a darkroom photograph, the contrast lifted way up, so everything cut neatly and silvery though my vision. His scarf and hair are splashes of colour on the tense, wintery scene. High in the sky, stretching to what looks like eternity, grey swells swirl and dive, threatening to break. The clear blue sky from this morning is fast disappearing; the winter is an unpredictable mistress.
"Remember when we came here in summer?" he asks me. I nod. It had been years ago. Hundreds. Maybe a thousand. Before there had been a town here.
Before there had been a cemetery here
And long before the tales of this land had been told.
"You ask me that every year."
"I know. But I like to remind you."
I don't think id like to see it in summer now. Clogged with beachgoers in bikinis and things. I don't tell him this, preferring to think a little longer on the memory of warm stones and acres of long glorious grasslands instead. Of wild flowers, and resting, and the first of many legends yet to come.
"Hey," he nudges my elbow. "Will you with me to the water?"
"Water?" I follow after him to the shoreline, where there was only ice pooling around rocks and stones and cracking beneath the toes of his shoes. "That's ice, den."
"Ja, I know. You know what I mean though." He sticks out his arms awkwardly, places a cautious foot on the surface of the ice and then terrifyingly, suspensefuly, and transfers his weight onto the new surface. It doesn't even creak.
Assured now, he steps out fully and beckons for me to follow. My heartbeat is beginning to flutter, and my blood beginning to bead with adrenaline, but I follow anyway. The ice is very steady underfoot.
We walk out a little way, three or four metres from the shore, and pause side by side to look at the horizon. Vertigo overtakes me, I grab his sleeve tight and feel all the blood drain from my face as I look to the sky. Standing here… on the frozen sea. Everything beneath me shudders, I think of how far I am from anyone, should the ice crack and fall in. I think of gravity in reverse, of falling into eternity upwards, skywards, through smoky grey clouds and sideways in a high velocity collision with god. I think of the pinnacle of existence, of a single hand holding me back down on earth, keeping me anchored here and safe with the weight of his love.
I blink, and the scene that had before been exploding before me in the white light of revelation was once again peaceful and calm. A split seconds panic, passed.
"Can I hold your hand?"
I glance at my fingers tied firmly in his sleeve, and rolling my eyes I relent, offering him my palm. He makes a soft, excited noise, and strips his glove, before trying to force his hand into mine.
"Hey!" I reprimand him, yanking my hand back. He looks a little forlorn, so I huff and strip my own glove before offering it back. The cold air only has a second to bite my fingers before he has grabbed them and shoved them in his coat pocket laced with his own.
The touch of warm skin is alien, and soothing.
"Why do we still come here?" I ask, gazing at the place I suspect the horizon blends with the sky. It was a special place, the end of the world. A beginning place. A delicate, glittery, dream like place. He smiled, and I think it hasn't changed much from that first smile he gave me, the first days and years of our lives shared on this very beach.
"You well know why." his response is soft and shy, like a schoolgirl talking to her crush, the smile he gives me is so slight and delicate it almost isn't his own. I sigh and edge a little closer.
He pecks my lips briefly and squeezes my hand in his pocket.
"Wow." His nose slides the length of mine, "someone's feeling affectionate today."
"Shut up" I kiss him again and he allows it, pulling me around so we are chest to chest. His lips taste like strawberry lipbalm, and are very soft.
"I love you Norge."
"Don't ever let me go."
AND NOW FOR A CONTROVERSIAL AUTHORS NOTE. (warning:spoilers)
I need to say this. I mean, I REALLY need to get this shit off my chest.
At the risk of sounding like hipster trash or offending any of those wonderful individuals who read my fics (I love you, really, even though our opinions may differ on the particular matter we have at hand), I just want to make a comment about HARRY POTTER. Its not hetalia related, and don't get me wrong I LOVE harry potter (it was like the foundation for my childhood. :3) but fuck, if I go on tumblr one more time and see a 'I was by harry until the very end' or 'I cant believe its over, but hogwarts will never be over for me' macro, I may just have to shoot something.
Because the final harry potter book came out in 2007. Harry potter has been finished for FOUR FUCKING YEARS, and peopke are only just beginning to realise SNAPE WAS IN LOVE WITH LILLY and all this other delightful stuff I knew four years ago.
Call me a purist, but anyone who calls themselves a harry potter fan and, rather than get off their ass and read the book to find out what happens, leached on fanfiction and waited four redundant years for the last movie, is a poser.
Shut up and stop flooding my dashboard with your shit.
HOWEVER, that being said, one of my dear friends is exactly one of those posers. He knows how I feel about it, but it doesn't change the fact that hes still my bro. my personal opinion on these matters is my own, and if you like to flit around like harry is yo bitch then please do. Just don't expect me to follow you on tumblr or read your soppy snapexlilly fics. Because I was reading those before you even knew what the fuck a horcrux was.
Rant over. I love you all. xoxox