Of Lacings and Old Dust

By Kaisre

Absence made the heart grow fonder.

But absence only made Ivan's heart ache all the more and absence was all he received for several years. It was all he would ever receive.

A hundred years gave Ivan enough time to teach himself how to feel numb—to block everything out once matters became too troublesome. The lack of things he once had wouldn't bother him as much, but whatever he lost remained lost.

He had one thing that would always come back to him over the years. Something to remind him that these large hands of his could break such delicate things.

But then… this Toris of his was not so delicate, and not quite as impressionable as he would prefer. Russia loved him dearly, but sometimes he would suspect the other did not feel the same way. If he tried thinking, to dig through listless dreams and memories, he would remember a better time they had together. It wasn't the easiest thing to have Toris live under him, but he certainly remembered the other would smile a lot more often.

A gentle voice pulled him from his reverie. "Ah… Ivan, the tea is going to grow ice cold."

"Hmm, tea?"

"Yes.. you asked for tea. Earl gray—the expensive one."

Ivan sat up on his mattress bed, his elbow digging into a pillow as he propped himself up to look at the Lithuanian. "It's not completely cold now, is it?"

Toris reached out a hand to feel the side of the teapot. "No, it's still a bit warm. Though I can reheat it if you'd like."

"It's alright. Thank you." He offered the smaller man a smile, only to see his green eyes dart in another direction to focus on pouring the tea.

"You're welcome."

There were a series of clanks as Toris laid out the pot, cup, and dish filled with cookies. He tucked the tray under his arm but stopped in his tracks when Russia called his name. "Toris?"

"Yes… Ivan?"

"The cup, there's…." he trailed off slowly.

Toris turned around, frowning slightly. "Is there a matter with it?"

"You laid out tea for one. Didn't I ask you to join me for this morning?"

Toris looked away again, agitated fingers pinching the edge of the tray. "I—there's much cleaning to do around the house today. Forgive me; I've been putting off my work for this past week."

The Russian got up quite suddenly from his bed, tossing his covers aside as he stood on his feet. A look of alarm crossed Lithuania's face but he stayed where he was. "Then let me help, da? You've been busy with papers—I understand."

"Ah… you don't have to, you must be tired."

Ivan shook his head. "From what? Being idle in bed?"

"I-I can take care of it on my own. There's no need."

"Lithuania." His tone darkened—it was subtle but more than enough to make the brunette stiffen. Ivan felt a little sting in his chest, nothing major, though this wasn't exactly how he wanted to convince the other.

"A-alright then.. I'll be up again in a minute." And he left, leaving Ivan to drink his tea alone.


Wooden boards and ashy steps creaked under his heavy boots as Russia made his way up the attic. He switched on a light, a new addition to the highest level of the house he had added years ago, and took a careful look around.

It was about time before he got to ridding himself of items that no longer held any value for him. He was certain even Lithuania made more trips up here than he did. He held no interest in this place. It was only useful for storing the oldest of his possessions—possessions he had no use for. Purposeless trinkets.

Of course he was not interested in the past, but it wouldn't hurt to take one look before he started to clear this place up, especially after all these years.

A wooden trunk rimmed with iron and a gold metal was the first to catch his eyes. Ivan took a seat on a stool besides it after dusting the top of dirt. The wooden pegs squeaked dangerously under the added weight but Russia paid no mind as he undid the latch of the trunk and swung the lid open, dust flying everywhere.

Coughing and waving his hand through the clouded air, Ivan noticed a glint of gold. He blinked and leaned in closer when the dust had finally settled.

Reaching in, Ivan pulled out a faded pink dress with white lace and gold thread woven into it in floral patterns. It was small and delicate—obviously made for a child, a young teenager.

Something painful jerked in his heart and Ivan decided he did not know who the previous owner was. He tossed the dress aside and did the same with three more garments that were obviously not of his own.

He was just about to shut the trunk away to a dark corner of the attic until his fingers brushed against a deep blue, velvety fabric. Curiosity getting the better of him, he pulled the object out, the garment being much heavier and thicker than the children's clothes.

Gold, woven shoulder pads and ropes adorned the dark coat. Red rings were wrapped around the sleeves and two rows of golden buttons ran down the length of the coat. The fabric was stiff, but otherwise undamaged—protected from tarnish by the clothes that were folded on top of it. A small cloud of dust puffed out when he unfolded it by grasping the uniform by its shoulders. Russia shook it some more to rid it of the rest of the dust.

In a century, Ivan was almost sure he had not grown an inch. Though perhaps… it wouldn't hurt to try it on once, just for nostalgia's sake.

Ivan wiped the surface of an antique mirror, clearing his reflection of smudges and dust. He shed his tan coat and it fell to the ground at his feet. He held the rich blue uniform up to his collar—at least it looked like it would still fit him.

After carefully undoing each shining button, Russia thread his arms through the stiff sleeves, shaking his limbs to loosen the cloth. He brought his hands to his front and redid every button again, slinging a gold buckle across his chest when he was done.

He took a step back, observing himself in the dim light.

This… This was something that stirred his mind. Closing his violet eyes, Ivan was greeted with an amber glow accompanied by the sound of violin strings and the footsteps of a hundred people. There was laughter and the whispering buzz of gossiping women and their playing children. There was the clinking of glasses and silverware against porcelain plates. Ivan sniffed.

He expected the sweet music to fade away since this warm feeling was nothing but a memory, but it didn't. The humming of the violins disappeared, but the melody did not. Ivan opened eyes, confusion crossing his face.

A single pair of footsteps gradually grew louder and Ivan got up from the stool to investigate. Leaning over the staircase, he found the source of the music.

Lithuania had his gaze lowered in a serene expression as he worked the bristles of a broom back and forth across each step. Every one of his breaths were barely louder than a whisper, but his notes were sweet to the Russian's ears.


The Lithuanian dropped the broom with a clatter and would've fallen backwards as he stumbled if Russia hadn't caught him by the sleeve of his uniform. Their fingers intertwined together and he pulled the other nation up with him, who ended up pressed against his chest.

"I-Ivan, you startled…!" He stopped in mid-sentence when he noticed that Russia wasn't clad in his usual tan coat, but the more formal uniform from the age of his tsars. "Oh."

"I'm sorry, Lithuania, I got excited… that's all," Ivan explained quietly, already missing the more-than-familiar song. Toris didn't look like he was concerned about almost falling, however.

Ivan blinked and looked down to see what he was doing. A finger was tracing the crisp edge of his diagonal buckle, the fingernail gently scraping against it's woven texture. "This… After all this time, Russia, you still have it?"

He nodded. "You remember too, don't you?"

"I do."

The sound of reverberating strings returned and Ivan suppressed a shudder of delight.

He breathed deeply, grasping the Lithuanian's hands in his own. "And you remember the food, the decorations, the people, da? …Oh, look! They've even come to join us!"

"W-what?" Toris glanced around, concern cause his mouth to pull in a frown. "There's… there's no one here, Ivan."

"But there is!" He pulled Lithuania across white marble, golden light streaming from a chandelier that hung overhead. "And over there is the orchestra. It sounds beautiful from here, doesn't it? It's Alexander's favorite!"

"I—" Ivan didn't give him a chance to protest, he would certainly have none of that during this fine event. His face grew close to Toris's and his voice was reduced to a strong whisper despite the excitement peeking from his cold depths.

"Everyone has their eyes on us, shall we give them a show?"

Toris looked mildly frightened and maybe even a bit worried—Ivan did not understand. His shoulders slumped an inch and his head bowed to the side in child-like disappointment. "… Lithuania?"

He seemed to be debating with himself while Russia waited for his answer.


He was coming to think that Toris only wanted to spoil the fun by making him wait until finally, "Let's."

A bright smile split his face in response and Ivan grasped one hand gently, stepping back in a bow.

Toris offered a hesitant smile of his own and returned the gesture. When they both straightened their backs, hands found their ways to each others' fingers, shoulder, and waist.

Ivan closed his eyes for a short moment, the smile still on his lips. "They've changed songs. It's a waltz. What do you think, Toris?"

He noticed how the other looked quite shy. He thought it was sweet. "I- I think we should start. We can't keep everyone waiting, can we?"

He couldn't ask for a better answer and together, they took the first step.

One— two— three and four and…

One— two— three and four and…

Lithuania seemed to grow more relaxed and fluid in his arms with every progressing note.

One— two— three and four and…

"If I might say, the music is growing duller~"

One— two— three and four and…

"Sing with me, Toris."

One— two— three and four and…

Boot-clad feet moved flawlessly over the floor, the two dancing in a perpetual circle.

One— two— three and four and…

Their steps grew faster in pace as their humming progressed deeper into the song.

One-two-three and four and…

One-two-three and four and…

The harmony slowed down to a steadier beat and Ivan found his chin resting on Lithuania's shoulder, his faultless humming filling his ears.

One— two— three and four and…

The lights dimmed and soon it was just Toris who carried on the song as he moved along with the drowsy Russian.

One— two— three and four and…

Toris slowed down the stepping so Ivan would keep up with him in his dozy state.

One— two— three and four and…

Toris let his last note hang in the air as he very gently, brought Ivan to the steps of the attic to sit him down.

The larger man swayed and slumped onto his lap, a veil of bliss visible on his face. Toris thought he was basking in his enjoyment and imagination rather than exhaustion.

"Toris… everyone's clapping.. for us." He made no effort to hide the happiness in his voice.

"I know, I hear them." Lithuania laid a hand on a gold and blue shoulder board as Ivan buried his nose into the cloth of his pants, clearly pleased with himself.

"We can dance again…?"

"Another day," Lithuania answered tenderly.

"Another day then."

"Yes, there will be music and food—"

"Guests too, you forget about the guests, Toris."

"Guests too, then."

"Do you think everyone will come to join us again?"

"… I'm sure they will. They look like they are enjoying themselves."

Toris leaned against the bars of the stair rail as Ivan sighed in contentment.

"Tell… Tell the children I'll be back soon."

"I will."

"Good, Toris… thank you."

With that, Ivan bid the playing of his musicians farewell as the rosy light and fancily-dressed people vanished from his vision.

Another day then.


Yes, Done! I'm not sure if this turned out how you expected, but I hope you liked it. The song these two were dancing to was Russian Waltz by Shostakovich, the name is far from creative but the song is beautiful.

Prompt: Nostalgia and Ballroom dancing.