_ . x X An Anniversary X x . _

~X~

Knock. Knock.

The stooped and tired figure didn't shift from his stiff position hovering next to hospital bed. France paused uncertainly, balancing the two bouquets in his arms with a little difficulty and tapping the door again. Perhaps he should just walk in and-

"I heard you the first time, bloody frog. What do you want?"

Smirking, France stepped through the threshold of the ICU ward. The English nation finally glanced over at his eastern neighbor when he heard the crinkle of bouquet wrapping. England's bushy brows stitched together, forming one massive brow that was his defining signal of confusion, and turned back to the boy resting upon the bed.

"Were two really quite necessary?" the island nation criticized shortly. "One would have been more than enough."

Placing the flowers gently on the bedside table, France threw his companion a mock injured look. "I thought you were more of a gentleman, Angleterre. Shouldn't you offer your guests a seat before verbally abusing them? Or is this just another crude English custom?"

England didn't bother with his standard retort. All of his attention was being given to the patient resting in the room. France, unable to continue their spoken joust without the other's contribution, silently sidled up to the other nation and watched the sick boy take raspy breaths through his mask.

"How is he doing?" France asked reverently.

The green-eyed nation smiled sardonically. "They told me he could have died if he had arrived an hour later," England reported, all bitterness crumbling away as he ran his fingers maternally through Sealand's dishwater-blond locks. He sighed. "All this fanfare about this 'swine flu', and I didn't even bother to protect my own household."

"Shouldn't he be staying with Tino and Berwald?"

England withdrew his hand and shook his head. "He was visiting me for the month, but I had to attend the meeting last week and I wouldn't take him. The lad must have gotten sick sometime after I left and was too proud to call anyone for help." He drew a shaky breath. "He almost died, Francis."

France, who always enjoyed kicking people when they were at their lowest, merely observed this time as England wiped his palm over his cheek. He pretended as if he hadn't seen the proud nation cry.

"He's a terrible lad - spoiled, rude, and constantly whining about one thing or another - but we share blood. No matter how insufferable he may be, if he died, a part of me would have died alongside him." England gave a short, sarcastic bark of laughter. "It's quite the cliché, isn't it? Only missing someone once they're gone."

The French nation stared apathetically at his antagonist for a moment before reaching over and plucking the bouquet of yellow and red roses. "Happy March twenty-fourth," France offered plainly.

"How thoughtful," the Englishman spat, turning back to his ill brother.

"Of course, considering that Espagne asked me to deliver them," France added lightly, replacing the flowers onto the table. "The other one is for Sealand, from me."

He turned to leave England to his pensive thoughts, but stopped at the door. Looking back, he pulled a Lancaster-red rose from Spain's bouquet and placed it into the other's unresponsive hand. He kissed both of England's sallow cheeks before he could protest and then slipped out of the aggressive nation's reach.

Chuckling, he called over his shoulder, "Welcome to the twenty-first century, mon ami!"

_ . x X el final X x . _


Word Count: Instantaneous - 585; Total - 10,297
Current Characters: England, France, Sealand

A/N: So, it's finally done! My first eva multichapter project finally done! So, thanks guys - all the reviewers, the subscribers, the favoriters, the everyone! - for sticking with me through his inconsistent mess. Hopefully, you'll see me around again soon? :3

Oh, and some final notes about this chapter:
'bouquet of yellow and red roses' - In the language of floriography, it means joy and excitement. Quite a slap in the face, hm? But, in Spain, yellow is also the colour for royal mourning.
'Happy March twenty-fourth' - No, it's not a holiday anywhere, but it is the day the Tudor dynasty ended with the death of the last sovereign, Queen Elizabeth.