Number: 04
Prompt: #23 - Journey
Summary: He's running from something bad. Has been for a while. They happen to meet when he "breaks" into her cabin to escape a blizzard. Maybe she can help him finally heal...
Pairings: PruHun, though it can be taken as friendship
Rating: T for Prussia

Disclaimer: I only own Hetalia season one dub and the first English novel. Other than that, nothing. Yes, it makes me cry myself to sleep at night too.

WARNING: Mention of character death.

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The wind was biting, sinking right through the many layers of his clothes to his skin, which was beginning to feel numb. Snow was melting where it landed on his body, causing his clothes to become damp, only furthering the numbing process. It fell steadily, making it as if he never existed by covering up any tracks he left as he trudged onwards to…somewhere.

He had stopped caring about a destination a long time ago.

And he wasn't about to start caring now.

Red eyes turned up to the moon, what little he could see of it anyway. The blizzard really was obstructing his view, but he looked at it for a while before facing straight ahead again. Not that it did him much good.

All he could see was snow, snow, and more snow.

Did he mention that he could see the fucking snow?

He let out a huff of annoyance, patting his arms to futilely get the blood pumping a little more as he finally spotted something ahead that may or may not provide shelter from the rest of the blasted storm.

"'Bout fucking time," he grumbled under his breath as he neared the only structure he'd seen for days.

As he drew closer, he saw that if it had not been for the dim light shining inside, he probably would've stomped right past it.

Log cabins have the tendency to blend into forests at night. Just a helpful thing he noticed when during one storm he found himself camping outside of an empty cabin during a blizzard. He made sure from then on to check more carefully when he made camp against unreasonably close trees.

He still blamed the snow for practically freezing his eyes shut.

Pushing his memory of his folly to the back of his mind, he marched right up to the door, and with his achy fingers, wrenched it open without knocking.

Which turned out to be a mistake.

He had scarcely shut the door behind himself when something hard and solid hit him on the head and he saw blackness as he fell to the floor.

-x-

Though he was sure that only a few minutes had passed, it felt like he'd been out for days when he finally roused to consciousness. Rubbing his head, he sat up, mildly surprised to find himself stripped of his outer clothes and wrapped in a blanket by a roaring fire.

"I don't know where you come from, but I'm pretty sure you're supposed to knock before entering someone's house." The voice was feminine and just the slightest bit miffed. Looking around for the source, he found in with the only other person in the whole cabin. She sat at the small table sipping a cup of something, staring at him as if he was an idiot.

Rolling his red eyes, he merely returned the look.

"You obviously walked fifteen miles through a blizzard before…"

"Fifteen miles?" She gaped at him, and it made the hollow feeling inside him fade a little. It was always nice to know that people still occasionally recognized how awesome he was.

"Yeah, but I could've kept going. I just didn't feel like it." He winced as he accidentally hit the bump forming on his head as he shook the ice from his white hair. "Shit! What'd you hit me with you crazy broad?"

She harrumphed, tossing her long brown hair over her shoulder as she narrowed her green eyes at him. "It was only my frying pan."

"A frying pan? What did you think I was, a goddamn burglar coming in through the fucking front door?" A low hiss came out as he cupped his head, wanting the pain to go away. For a woman she had a damn good arm, and aim for that matter, but he wasn't really in the mood to compliment her.

"You took me by surprise, and it was the first thing I could think of doing." She looked away from him for the first time, and he was amused to see that she seemed to be embarrassed. "I'm not exactly used to getting visitors, so I tend to always expect the worst…"

Silence fell between them, and he wasn't really sure what he could do to assuage the awkwardness. Or if he even wanted to at that. This woman had just bashed him over the head with a fucking frying pan, so sue him if he was feeling the tiniest bit of a grudge.

"…I'm Elizaveta, by the way…"

"Gilbert…"

She still wasn't looking at him, and he wasn't about to make her. It wasn't like staring into her eyes made him forget about why he was traveling or anything. Nope, nothing so sappy and romantic could ever be the reason for why he desperately wanted her to look at him again. He was mad at this chick for hitting him and simply wanted her to see his glare. That was all, really.

Eventually, he gave up trying to catch her eye again and faced the fire, finding it a much more interesting subject than the woman who had merely played with the handle of her cup.

"What was so important that you had to walk fifteen miles in the worst blizzard to hit this area this season?"

The flames flickered up and down, as if they were trying to jump out of the fireplace, but couldn't make it. Gilbert knew the feeling.

"Nothing—I was just walking."

"Just walking? Are you stupid? It must be negative twenty out there, and you just decided it was a good time for a walk?"

"I didn't leave my house to just walk in one damn blizzard two hundred miles away!" he growled, the futile attempts of the fire to escape its prison pulling his mind into the vault of bad memories. The very memories he had been trying to get away from.

"…Then why did you, Gilbert?"

He shuddered at the sound of his name even though he wasn't that cold anymore. It had been weeks since he'd heard someone say it.

"I…" He wanted to explain. He couldn't understand what it was about this woman that made him talk, when not even the parishioner back in his hometown could, but he was feeling the almost uncontrollable urge to tell her everything. To tell her how he came home from a party to find him mangled and bloody. That he should've been there. That he shouldn't be alive. That he walked through blizzards until he couldn't anymore because he wanted to make himself suffer as much as possible before killing himself.

But even though his mind felt ready to tell her, his voice couldn't handle it. It hadn't been used regularly for days, and he didn't talk to himself as much as he had when he first set out. The looks from people as he had passed through towns had pissed him off too much. He decided that a mental monologue was better anyway, that way he could make fun of the people he passed without getting beat up.

Thankfully, she seemed to sense his dilemma.

"Here," she said as she handed him a warm cup of tea. He scowled a little, wishing it had been coffee, but he wasn't about to refuse it. A warm drink was a warm drink, and he was damn tired of ice cold water.

He nodded his thanks as he carefully blew on and then sipped the tea. It was chamomile, and for some reason that didn't surprise him.

They sat in silence again, though it was more relaxed this time. She had seen fit to leave her post at the table and was standing by the fire now, leaning against the concrete mantel. He just watched the way the light from the fire chased the shadows on her face as he drank his tea. It was obvious she was mulling over something, so he decided to rest his vocal chords some more and wait for her to speak.

"I can tell something bad happened to you." He almost dropped his cup as he quickly looked up at her. Smiling warmly, she met his red eyes with her green. "It's not like you're clandestine about it. You obviously have something you're running from, whether it is a memory or a person, or both."

"H-How?" If she had already seen that far without him saying anything, why bother pretending to mask his emotions?

Her smile became the slightest bit mischievous. "Your disregard for your well-being. The way you seem to not really see anything, but just stare dully at them. Not to mention the incredibly long distance you've covered, on foot, in the dead of winter."

She shrugged and faced the fire again. "It's not like it was hard to figure out."

He continued to stare at her, a bit mystified that she found him so easy to read. The last person who'd been able to do that had been…

A small hiccup sneaked its way out of his mouth, and he touched his cheeks in shock.

When had he started crying, goddamnit?

It amused him that she seemed as surprised at his tears as he was, but it wasn't enough to make it stop. She kneeled in front of him, taking the cup gently from his hands and setting it on the floor next to them before pulling him into a hug.

Her simple act of kindness caused the dams to let loose on her shoulder as she cradled his head, careful of the bump she gave him.

"Shhh, it's okay. You don't have to tell me whatever it is that happened. Just now I'll be here if you want to, and you can stay here as long as you want." Her voice was soothing, and once again she was reminding him of that person. It was unnerving how she was saying almost the exact same things he would say to him those few times he had broken down.

It was unnerving, but also comforting. It was like he wasn't gone.

He fell asleep when his eyes ran out of tears. He had walked far that day and hadn't had much strength to begin with, and the crying had rid him of what little he had left.

She lowered him to the floor slowly, balling up some of her extra blankets and resting his head on top of it. Then she gathered some of her heavier blankets and laid them over his still frame. She didn't want him getting cold. If he had been out in the snow all day, then she figured a little extra heat wouldn't be unwelcome.

As she picked up his half-finished cup of tea, part of her wished she had the strength to lift him up onto her bed. However, that would be impossible. She had been about to go to bed when he barged in, but now she felt physically and mentally exhausted.

She puttered around for a minute or two more, a small smile gracing her lips at the sound of his light snoring, before she crawled into her bed and pulled the covers over herself.

"Goodnight Gilbert," she whispered, marveling at how long it'd been since she'd said goodnight to someone besides the occasional injured animal she treated.

It was probably her imagination, but she could've sworn that as she was dozing off, she heard him reply, "Goodnight Elizaveta, and thanks…"

"You're welcome," she muttered sleepily before falling asleep herself.

The wind continued to howl and buffer the walls of the cabin, but just barely over it one could hear the snoring of the man and woman as they slept in the odd companionship that strangers can sometimes share when they instinctively sense that the other might be someone you can't live without.

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A/N: Obviously the "he" Gilbert kept referring to is Ludwig, but in case I write a sequel, I'm not going to say anything about what I think happened to him.

I for some reason love these two together, but more in an AU sense than canon a lot of the time. Plus it just makes me happier than AusHun because that's so...obvious?

They're divorced anyway. XD

Well, that was definitely a downer compared with the previous one-shots, but I was just feeling sad!Prussia.

Review and go read my chaptered fic if you haven't already~ :D