This oneshot is for Five Tailed Demon Dog who requested Netherlands/Canada. And I could not resist. So, here is my offering. Hopefully its not an epic fail and I hope you enjoy it!
Warnings: potential OOCness, Wikipedia, language, slash
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
"Who?" Netherlands asked, somewhat sluggishly, squinting up at his citizen with bored amber eyes.
"Canada, sir!" His citizen repeated, unable to keep the brilliant smile off his haggard face. Netherlands felt a burst of pity staring at his citizen. At one time, the man had been a high-ranking advisor and now he had been reduced to a mere skeleton of his grandeur.
Hell, Netherlands knew that he himself had been reduced to a mere shadow of himself under Germany's austerity. And what strength had remained, the Hongerwinter slowly chipped away, leaving behind pallid skin stretched tight over brittle bones and shot pride.
"The nation that took in Her Majesty." The man repeated, face growing concerned when his nation grimaced in pain. "Oh my poor country…" He said sadly, kneeling next to the man centuries his senior yet still feeling paternal love.
Netherlands waved away his worry, trying to ride out the shudder of pain, instead concentrating on drawing up a memory of young Canada.
The first time he had seen the fledgling country, the boy had hidden behind France's legs, peeking out and giving him a distrustful glare. Those violet eyes had been so frigid that the Dutchman swore his very blood began to freeze under that scrutinizing gaze.
The boy wasn't like his brother to the south. There was little warmth in his demeanor and Netherlands swore the child knew more of the political landscape than he let on.
France had been overly protective and possessive and Netherlands wished little boys were as easy to please as little girls because oh what a message it would've been to the lascivious bastard to seduce his precious charge.
The ashen haired man didn't see the child again, after that, until he caught a glimpse of Canada standing behind England after the Great War. He had been a wisp of a nation, eyes too big and bright and face wizened beyond his years. Belgium had raved to him for months, stars in her eyes, as she recounted the boy's valor and strength.
"He's so good, brother." Belgium had murmured, cheeks flushed and looking more girlish than he had ever seen her. "You just won't understand until you meet him."
Netherlands didn't really meet the whelp until England introduced him months ago, telling him that his royals were no longer safe on his island.
"They will be safe in Ottawa." England had said curtly, the war's toll clear on his face. He trembled as he lifted the teacup to his lips and Canada had quietly reached over to steady his hand.
Netherlands hid his surprise when the always stern nation's face softened at the action and whatever scathing remarks the nation wanted to spit out (how this was all England's fault and France's and why couldn't they just keep the rest of the Continent out of it and how many times did they want to rewrite history and the world just to suit their twisted desires and why exactly should he believe anything England says?) died on his tongue when those honest violet eyes turned to him.
"I will take care of your people." Canada had said, voice so soft and lilting that Netherlands wondered if he really even spoke.
This was the shock trooper? The bogeyman of the last war? The supposed source of Germany's nightmares?
The blond seemed otherworldly, shimmering in and out of sight, as though he had no real tie to this realm.
But his gaze was so determined, so kind, that Netherlands found himself desperately hoping that this child—who seemingly had none of England's defiance or France's quicksilver wit or America's charisma—could keep his word.
"The citizens are grateful." The human continued, enamored. "The Canadians keep moving forward, dropping food into cities. It is only a matter of time before they chase out these beasts." He spat out, disdainful as he remembered the intruding army.
"Indeed." Netherlands mused, crossing his thin arms, the baggy sleeves of his jacket pooling at the crooks of his arms.
When his citizen finally left, no doubt to spread the good tidings, the amber-eyed man moved slowly towards his desk, avoiding the glinting mirror, pulling out a package wrapped in cheap paper, untying the twine with shaking fingers.
Inside was a small pile of scraps of paper scrawled with flowery script. Short messages from Canada dated sporadically (Netherlands had no idea how he managed to even receive them).
She is strong.
Beatrix is happy.
Margriet will be Dutch. She is beautiful.
Some were just encouragements, others gave him news of his royal family. All of them made his throat close up as he traced the flowing script, so ornamented and frivolous, unlike the no-nonsense manner of its author. He didn't know how Canada managed to send them from the battlefield, but he was eternally grateful.
The nation, who by other accounts exhibited the best of England, France, and America, also had a brand of kindness that none of the others did, a brand that the Dutch nation wasn't sure existed before meeting Canada.
When the Canadians rolled into the Randstad, distributing supplies and rations, Netherlands could feel his citizen's renewed cheer and hope warm under his skin.
He had barely managed to sit up in bed when his door opened and a blur of gold and white dashed in, coming to a stop at his bedside.
"Don't strain yourself." Canada commanded gently, a little of England's imperial strength in his tone. Gloved hands pressed him back against the bed. "Let me get you some water. I've got food as well."
"My people…" Netherlands pushed weakly, stubbornly eyeing his liberator.
Canada huffed, errant curl bobbing. "I told you I would take care of your people." His glare softened. "So, just let me okay? Trust me."
And Netherlands finally understood why this nation inspired so much affection in those around him.
And he trusted him.
"The lad always liked tulips." England said simply, Netherlands standing next to him, more substantial and energized than during his last visit. "It's the least I can do." The dwindling empire said wistfully, green eyes distant. "He never once faltered in his support."
The Dutch nation puffed lazily on his pipe, regarding the tulips with a practiced eye as he digested this bit of information. He was fond of the flower, without a doubt, after cultivating the blossom thanks to a certain Turk.
When he returned to The Hague and shared this new knowledge with his Queen, she smiled.
"Then darling Canada will have tulips."
"Oh, hello." Canada said, looking up at him through his tousled golden bangs. His tone was polite, but surprise peeked through.
And Netherlands, shifting in his woolen coat and favored scarf, tightened his grip on the bouquet of brilliant red tulips and shrugged. "I thought I'd come see this festival of yours."
Canada seemed to hesitate for a minute, slender fingers curving into the wood of his front door. "Really?"
Netherlands blinked, surprised before he commented wryly. "No. I just crossed the entire Atlantic just to ask the time."
Canada blushed, the soft pink traveling up to even his ears. "Sorry, I just…don't get visitors often." He chuckled nervously, eyes apologetic, reaching out for the tulips with a pleased quirk to his lips.
Okay, so he also had England's awkwardness. But it was charming on Canada.
Honestly speaking, Netherlands had a hard time reconciling this meek young man, flickering out of sight for brief, horrifying seconds (in which the Dutchman would grab the collar of the other's heavy coat and snap, "Don't do that.") with the stories of a battlefield demon and the image of a battle-scarred child pointed a gun, regretful but merciless shadowed eyes.
Canada had gone from lion to lamb in a few years.
But when the North American nation grabbed his hand and dragged him towards the magnificent floral displays, tulips clutched close, a carefree smile on his face and stunningly clear eyes Netherlands found that he didn't mind the change.
Canada was Canada and he liked Canada.
Netherlands realized he was falling hard when he was making stroopwafels and he wondered if Canada would enjoy them, seeing as the nation had a demanding sweet tooth.
He wasn't even sure how it happened. Somewhere during the few decades they knew each other, the young nation had managed to slip into his intimate thoughts, prompting warmth and affection at a mere thought.
It wasn't even on a purely physical level as most of his fleeting interests were. He genuinely enjoyed the other's company and uncovering facets of Canada's personality that few were privy to.
Perhaps it was some bizarre consequence of being liberated during one of the most horrid times he could recall. Perhaps it was some residual desire to piss of France and England. Perhaps it was a way to get back at America for not choosing him.
But whenever Canada smiled at him and then challenged him to a skating contest, Netherlands's heart twitched and he conceded that maybe Belgium was right to be so besotted.
"Will." Matthew began slowly, as though contemplating the best way to say his next few words. The blond fiddled with the tulips, adjusting the individual flowers in the vase and running worshipping fingertips across the soft petals.
Willem, sprawled on the other's couch and flipping idly through the television before settling on a hockey game that he figured would please the younger nation, just grunted, silently waiting for the other to continue.
"I don't mean to sound ungrateful," Matthew continued in that same hesitant voice. "but why do you always bring me red tulips?" He turned to look at his close friend, eyes questioning.
Willem stilled before sighing, his eyes fluttering shut. Eyes still closed, he scratched at his scar before crossing his arms, suddenly wishing for his pipe.
(Ever since he and Matthew got high and were subsequently caught by Alfred and Arthur during one of their surprise visits that occurred whenever Alfred remembered Canada still liked him and whenever Arthur realized there was one reason and only one reason why North America wasn't hell on Earth, Matthew had banned any smoking paraphernalia in his house during the day.)
"I mean, they're really pretty." Matthew said suddenly, beginning to sound fretful at Willem's silence. "Its just that, you send so many different colors but you always personally bring me red—"
"You like red, though." Willem pointed out, hoping that Matthew wouldn't keep poking at the issue.
"I love red." The blond said firmly. "But yellow is nice too—"
"It wouldn't mean the same." Willem sighed.
Matthew looked confused. "What do you mean it wouldn't mean…" He trailed off, violet eyes a little uncertain.
The two nations were silent, just watching each other thoughtfully.
"So many years…" Matthew mused, lips twitching downwards. "And here I thought you only brought red tulips because red is my favorite color… How long, exactly?"
Willem looked away, muttering, "Since that first year…maybe even before that…maybe even when you were still in dresses…"
Matthew laughed lightly, "Those ruffled gowns Francis and Arthur had me wear?"
"With the red ribbon." Will added moodily. "Its like they encouraged perversion."
"You poor thing. Tempted for so long." The blond teased, moving over to the couch where he curled up next to Willem. "You could have just told me."
"I thought you'd realize. Didn't England teach you floriography?"
"Of course he did. But I assumed tulips were just your thing." Matthew said quietly. "We wasted so many years…"
"…wait, what?" Willem turned his head so fast, the world spun for a moment.
Matthew raised an eyebrow and grinned a little. "I wasn't really that high that one time we made waffles and I kissed you."
Willem just stared at the younger nation. "So…?"
"Yes." Matthew said simply. "Now kiss me and lets finish watching the game." His smile twisted into a small smirk. "And then you can tie me up."
The European nation grinned, wrapping an arm around Matthew.
Yeah, he definitely liked Matthew.
Willem is another name I have for Netherlands. I switched to human names at the end to show how close they've gotten (according to Wikipedia, the two nations have one of the closest relationships in the world. DAMN IT HETALIA WORK WITH THIS -shot-). Red tulips are supposed to be a declaration of love. The Dutch royal family was apparently in the UK before they were moved to Canada where it was safer. In case nothing is clear, just wikipedia Canadian-Dutch relations and all will be clear. Also, I read that it was someone in the Royal Horticultural Society who first sent tulips as a thank-you for Canada's continued support of the Netherlands. So, that explains England and tulips.
All comments and criticisms welcome!