Authors Notes:

This fic was originally written for the kink meme, so if it looks familiar, there's a chance that it is. Anyway, I know that what happens on the kink meme is supposed to stay on the kink meme, but I liked how this turned out, so I decided to put it up here. Comments are, as always, appreciated.

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It's a quiet Friday, and Finland has fallen asleep after a long day of work. It isn't as if there's anything else to do; the drifts of snow outside the window have made sure of that. Prior to this point in time, he had just been playing with Hana-Tamago and enjoying the warmth of the fire that Sweden had stoked in the fireplace. He couldn't deny that he was worn out, so he decided to take a short rest on the couch before doing the last of the night's paperwork. However, he had underestimated how tired he was, and as soon as his eyes shut, he was out like a light.

Now he is fast asleep under his blanket, completely unaware of Sweden's approaching footsteps.

Sweden walks in from his room, abandoning a small stack of paperwork of his own. It seems odd to him that both Finland and the dog have been quiet for so long, and now he sees why. The Finn lies on the couch, sleeping without a sound, the little ball of white fluff named Hana-Tamago curled up at his feet. The tall man watches Finland's chest gently rise and fall and thinks of how, were he awake, he would jump at Sweden's mere entrance. Something about how peaceful he looks lying there, so undisturbed by the Swede's presence, warms Sweden's heart. He feels happy that his "wife" is not trying to pull away from him or otherwise acting unnerved for once, even if it is only because the mild-mannered nation is asleep.

The glow from the still-smoldering fire casts light on Finland's face. Sweden's eyes scan the other man's rounded features that contrast with his sharper, somewhat more angular ones. He thinks of how that roundness makes him look younger, a little more childish, without making him seem too young. In the dim lighting, he looks soft, gentle. Sweden finds himself moving closer to the sleeping Finn. He likes that softness; it is yet another pleasing contrast to him.

Standing over Finland makes a flash of nervousness jump into Sweden's mind. He is very close to the sleeping nation, and he is starting to worry that he might wake him up and ruin what looks like the most peaceful sleep. He absolutely does not want to disturb Finland now. Finland looks so happy in his repose, and that is how Sweden wants him: calm and content, with no worries to furrow his brow or fears to shake him from the inside out. This kind of tranquility is one that the intimidating Nordic man would protect for his dearest friend at any cost.

A warmth surges up inside Sweden, a warmth that he feels could rival that of the crackling fire behind him. He loves Finland. He loves how the smaller man is often his "mouth," articulating sentiments that the taciturn Swede has difficulty expressing on his own. He is a translator of sorts, able to sort through his grunts and mumbles and relay coherent sentences on to targets less skilled in understanding Sweden's particular way of speaking. But most importantly, he is something to come home to. His presence livens up what would otherwise be a dull, dark, and thoroughly silent house. Finland is the one who starts the conversations, and even if the exchanges are a little awkward, they are something Sweden looks forward to, for he feels that no one else would move to interact with him the way his "wife" does.

Slowly, Sweden works up the courage to brush one of Finland's bangs out of his face. He reaches forward gingerly as he does this, as if he is afraid that the slightest touch will shatter the smaller man into a million pieces that no amount of "Sweding" would ever be able to put back together. Finland stirs a little in his sleep but eventually settles, a blissful smile creeping across that wonderful face. The feelings of love wash over the standing man again as he wonders how he could ever thank his friend for the support that he gives. He has tried many times before to express his feelings and failed with each and every attempt. The few words he can force out all end up snagged on his own shyness (a man like him, shy? Who would have thought of that?), and in the end the topic always ends up dropped. There must be some way he can convey his locked-away feelings, the ones that bang on the bars of their cages at this very moment, begging to be set free.

Words. It goes without saying that words are not Sweden's forte. Perhaps it is that weakness that ruins his chances for self-expression. He finds himself wanting a method that does away with words completely. Having to choose the proper words and then shove them beyond the barriers of his mind complicates the process of talking in a way Sweden loathes. He will have to use a simpler tactic, one that doesn't require an impulse to make as many "stops" on its way out.

The realization of a new approach comes to him quickly, but he is reluctant to accept it. There has to be another way; the one he has just thought of feels like it will be too direct, too forward. But a more direct approach is what he happened to be looking for. If he can't use any other, "safer" course of action to express his thanks, this is how he will have to do it.

Sweden takes a deep breath and clears his mind of all noise that isn't the crackling of the fireplace or Finland's breathing. Slowly, he leans forward till their lips meet. He doesn't dare to linger there, as perfect as the contact feels. Any extra time he spends in the kiss will most likely send the wrong kind of message. The deed has been done without a single stumble, and he intends to keep it that way.

It occurs to Sweden that Finland may never know of this gesture. He is fine with that; it is practice for when he is ready to try again and Finland is ready to listen. He is about to leave when Finland's eyes flutter open. The Finn takes in the scenery around him until his eyes hit Sweden. The shock of the man looming over him causes him to nearly catapult into a sitting position with a gasp, waking up Hana-Tamago in the process and making her jump off the couch. He is about to have something of a panic attack, but he puts the pieces together and manages to calm himself. That contact he felt on his lips was no dream, for Sweden is standing right in front of him. His hand slowly rises to his mouth as even more pieces fall into place. The man who seems perpetually ready to strike just handled him so gently. Finland now realizes that there is no need to fear Sweden; no promise or devilish deal of any sort could ever make the imposing figure hurt him. He is a protector, determined to keep someone he deems a friend safe from any harm. When Sweden's sword finally comes down on an offender's head, Finland will never be the target.

The two of them lock eyes. Finland almost says something, but swiftly changes his mind. The look in Sweden's eyes tells him all he needs to know. Sweden receives the same information from Finland's eyes. They are partners, two halves of a functioning whole. They simply look into each other's eyes, and each man knows how much the other cares for him. More is conveyed through their eyes than ever could be through words. They look, and they know.