The young girl stumbled slowly through the freezing rain. All she had for protection from the elements was a ragged dress. She was so cold, but she was too weak from starvation to try to warm herself. She did not even have the strength to shiver. She could barely stand, but she somehow managed to keep walking…and walking…and walking…. What else was there to do? She walked on aimlessly; almost in a daze. She did not know where she was going. She had no place to go. She only knew that she had to keep moving. She was afraid of what would happen if she stopped.

As she walked the dark streets, she would lean on a building for support every once in a while. She would take a moment to catch her breath, and then continue on. Every now and then, she might give a weak cough. She had been fighting a bad cold ever since the Great War had ended. It was a fight that she was pitifully losing. Her chest was feeling heavier with each step. It was becoming so excruciatingly painful to breath, that she was attempting to avoid it. She clutched her chest as she coughed again. Even though her coughs were small, they seemed to make her lungs hurt 100 times worse. She tried to console herself with the fact that her chest was the only thing in pain. Her aching muscles seemed to have disappeared. That's when she realized something was wrong. If the muscles in her legs had miraculously gotten better, why was it still so hard to stand? With a sickening feeling, she finally noticed how numb she was. She could still see and hear the pounding rain around her, but she could no longer feel it hitting her body. It was a strange feeling.

Am I…dying?

Her mind voiced the possibility at last.

Is this what is feels like to die?

She almost felt as if she was death, itself, wandering the city. Her eyes gazed lifelessly out at the empty streets in front of her. Her vision was beginning to blur, but she could still see well enough to tell that there was no one else around. She was all alone.

Whatever shall I do?

Suddenly, she lost her balance again and slammed into another building. She braced herself against the hard, brick wall and took in a few painful gasps of air. Oh, how it hurt! Her lungs were begging for more air than she felt like she could give them. Her mind commanded her body to push up again and keep moving, but nothing happened. She stopped struggling to breath. Her legs felt limp. Finally, she gave up and slowly slipped down. She sat motionless on the hard stone. Only a single street light shined on her as she stared into nothing.

"My house and everything around me are in ruins due to the depression," she whispered to herself. "I don't have enough to eat, either. What's…going to happen to me?" No answer came. Why did she have to be alone at a time like this? "I think…" her whisper became softer. "This may be the end for me." Her eyes slowly closed. Acceptance of her fate was creeping in. Fighting to live was so hard. It seemed easier to just give in to her exhaustion. She could feel herself slipping away. The sounds and smells of everything around her seemed to be fading. No. She didn't want to go, yet. But she couldn't stop it.

"I wish," she spoke one last time. "I could have remained a country for just a bit longer…."

"Hey, you," a voice in the darkness suddenly spoke out. "Are you alright?"

The voice sounded far away. It couldn't be real. The girl wondered if she was dreaming. She was sure that she had been all alone a moment ago. Real or not, the voice began to pull her back to reality. The sound of the rain falling around her returned, and with it was a new sound. It was faint, but it was definitely there. It was the sound of breathing. The girl could feel the presence of another person in front of her. A tiny bit of hope welled up in the girl as she opened her eyes. Maybe she would be saved after all. But when her eyes adjusted, and she saw who was with her, her heart sank. Standing in front of her was a young, blonde man. He appeared to be only a few years older than the girl. He was staring at her with a blank expression.

It was Switzerland.

Switzerland: the hermit of Europe. He was famous for keeping to himself. He was calloused and stern. He didn't seem to trust anyone else. At first glance, he appeared to be a harmless young boy, but he was much tougher than he seemed. Because he was just a small nation surrounded by all the European powers, he had learned to become hard and intimidating for the sake of his survival. During the Great War, he had declared neutrality. However, to Switzerland, "neutrality" meant shooting at anyone who came near his border—no matter what side they were on. The saying, "If you don't bother Switzerland, he won't bother you," was well-known in Europe. It was good advice to remember. Everyone also knew that if a country was ever in any trouble, they shouldn't waste their time going to Switzerland for help. He was the kind of person who only looked out for himself.

The girl's eyes closed once more.

It's no use.

She told herself in despair.

He won't help me.

A bright light made the girl squint her already closed eyes. The cheerful sounds of morning began to arouse her. She could feel a slight breeze on her face, but other than that, her entire body felt warm. She sleepily opened her eyes to the bright sunlight. When her eyes adjusted, she could see that she was snuggly tucked into a canopy bed that was inside a large room. The room didn't have much in it, but it was clean and tidy. The girl took a small breath. The room held a faint smell of chocolate. Sunlight shone in from an open window. Outside, she could hear birds singing and trees rustling.

All of her surroundings were welcoming, but unfamiliar. It took the girl a moment to regain her memories. The last thing she remembered was wandering down dark streets in a storm. She also remembered feeling as if she might have been dying. For the briefest of moments, the girl wondered if she might be in Heaven. Then, she heard a small noise to her left. She turned her head as best she could and saw someone sitting at her bedside. The person was resting on a table with his head in his arms. He appeared to be sleeping. Before the girl could decide what to do, the mystery man stirred. He sat up slightly and rubbed his face with his hands as if to rub away his fatigue. When she got a clear look at him, the girl would have gasped if she had had the breath. The very tired-looking person turned out to be Switzerland. Only, his face was not in its usual scowl. Switzerland actually seemed troubled over something. Suddenly, the girl remembered meeting the older boy in the street the night before. Was he the one who had brought her to this room?

The girl watched as Switzerland solemnly picked up a bowl and spoon that was sitting on a tray in front of him. He halve-heartedly dipped the spoon into the bowl's contents. Just as he was raising the spoon to his mouth, he happened to glance over at the girl out of the corner of his eye. His head shot around to her when he realized she was looking back at him.

"You're awake!" he spoke with amazement.

The girl did not reply. She was not sure what she should say. When she saw Switzerland's shocked expression, she had to wonder how long she had actually been asleep. Immediately, the older blonde abandoned his lunch and reached out to her. His look was now very serious. The girl closed her eyes timidly and felt something being lifted off of her forehead. She opened her eyes again and saw that it had been a damp cloth. Somehow she had not noticed that before. Switzerland firmly placed his free hand to her now bare forehead.

"Gott sei dank," she heard him whisper under his breath. He sounded relieved, but his face was as intense as ever. "Your fever seems to have gone down."

The girl averted her eyes from the stern gaze of her care-taker. For some reason, she was feeling shy. Well…she had always been a little shy around others, but being studied by the hardened nation of Switzerland left her feeling especially vulnerable, somehow. When she turned away from him, she noticed the bowl that Switzerland had returned to the table. There was a teeny bit of steam floating out of the bowl. One look and she could not stop her deprived stomach from growling. Switzerland must have noticed her stomach noises as he followed her wistful gaze to his bowl of soup.

"Oh, of course," he sounded almost panicky. "You must be famished." He quickly pulled the girl's covers back a bit and lifted her up as he spoke.

The girl tried to speak, but the cross-looking Swiss quieted her. He told her to rest her voice. Switzerland carefully adjusted the girl's pillows and helped her to sit up. As she was being gently propped up, the girl realized that her hair was flowing freely around her. Her long, golden braids had been undone, and her hair had been brushed. Her filthy and torn clothes were also missing. They had been replaced by a pair of soft, slightly over-sized pajamas. She wondered if they might be Switzerland's. They looked so clean. In fact, her whole body felt clean and refreshed. She felt as if the filth of all of her years of struggle had been washed away. Oh, what a heavenly feeling! She had not had a bath in so long!

Once her upper body was comfortably steadied against the cushions behind her, Switzerland returned to his seat. He scooted his chair a little closer to the bedside and took the bowl of soup with the spoon into his hand. He scooped up a small amount of the soup and carefully held it to the girl's lips.

"Here, eat," he commanded.

The girl stared at the spoon hesitantly. She looked up at the older nation as if to ask him if it was really alright for her to eat it. She did not want to take away his food. Switzerland gave her a scornful glare.

"Don't be rude. I just offered you a meal. You should accept it," after scolding her, his face seemed to soften just the tiniest bit. "I only brought this in a few moments ago, and I have plenty more in the kitchen that I can eat later," he tried to reassure his patient. The girl wouldn't find out for some time, but that was a lie. It was the first of many that the older boy would tell to keep the girl from worrying about his eating habits. Switzerland was going through hard times as well. He spoke firmly again when he continued, "You should be thinking more about yourself. Now open your mouth. You are letting the soup get cold, and I won't tolerate wastefulness."

The girl opened her mouth. She was too scared to disobey. The warm liquid fell into her mouth and she gratefully swallowed it.

"Gut," Switzerland encouraged.

As Switzerland fed her, the girl's body began to act on its own. Her shyness was forgotten and replaced by a need to EAT. The girl could not remember the last time she had eaten something. The soup hardly had any taste and was little more than broth. It was not much of a meal, but her drained body was so desperate for nourishment, that at the very taste of something that remotely resembled food, the girl lapped it up eagerly. Her body automatically leaned forward every time the spoon came near, just so she could devour the bite faster. Switzerland had to hold her back.

"Easy…take it slow, or you'll make yourself sick," he gently warned.

At last, girl tried to relax on her pillows and allow Switzerland to spoon-feed her at a cautious pace. As she ate, she could feel that small amount of soup giving her body strength. Her mind began to clear. She eventually worked up the nerve to study Switzerland a bit as he fed her. Luckily, he did not look her in the eye. He seemed to be intently focused on transferring the poor excuse for soup from the bowl and into her mouth. The girl stared at him in wonder. Why? Why was he helping her? She was happy that he was helping her, but she was also confused. She had always heard that Switzerland was a cold-hearted loner. She had been so sure that he would have left her for dead that night.

The girl was starting to feel uncomfortable. How was she going to pay the other nation back for what he was doing? Surly Switzerland was expecting her to reimburse him for all of his trouble. What was she going to do? Then a terrible thought occurred to her. What if this was not a loan? What if he was planning on using her? What if he had only seen her as a fallen county that would be easy to conquer? The poor girl began to tremble. Why did she always have to be so naïve? She should have known that no one would be willing to help her—not unless they could get something out of it. She was such a small and helpless country. Switzerland would have known that she would never be able to pay him back. He had to be planning on occupying her.

"Hey, is something wrong?" Switzerland asked when he finally noticed her trembling and frightened expression.

As an answer, the girl pushed the sheets off of her and feebly tried to leave the bed. She did not want to live under another nation's control—especially another nation that she did not even know, well! The girl's actions were so sudden, that she almost knocked the bowl out of Switzerland's hand. Caught off guard, Switzerland struggled to catch the bowl and keep the contents from spilling out all over his bed. A few drops escaped despite his efforts. The older nation growled with annoyance.

"Hey, what do you think you're do…WATCH OUT!"

Switzerland placed the soup back on the table just in time to catch the girl. Her escape attempt had failed miserably. As soon as she stood, her legs had given out. She quickly fell into her captor's lap.

"Stop moving around! Are you trying to get yourself killed?"

The girl shook in Switzerland's arms. Tears were blinding her. She just wanted to go home. She knew she had no home to go back to, but she had to at least leave Switzerland's house.

"Must…get…home…" she choked out.

Switzerland was not amused in the slightest.

"Are you a fool? You can't leave! You're still too weak!"

Switzerland effortlessly lifted up the girl's limp body. He cradled her like a baby and returned her to the bed. The girl was forced to give up. There was no way she could get away from Switzerland.

"Seriously," Switzerland scolded as he re-covered the petite girl with the bed sheets. "What were you thinking? And look at you! You made me spill soup all over you!" Switzerland frowned at the stains on his pajamas.

The girl hung her head. A tear or two escaped her. She felt scared and alone. What was it going to be like, having this short-tempered nation as a master? She heard Switzerland give a rough sigh. He sat down by her again and pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket. He used it to soak up the spots of soup on the girls night clothes.

"You are Liechtenstein, aren't you?" his voice was calmer when he finally spoke again, but he didn't wait for the girl to answer. "I know all about your situation."

The girl could feel more tears coming. She felt ashamed. He was probably going to criticize her for falling so low. He was probably going to tell her what was going to be expected from her as a dependant nation. What he did say surprised her.

"You don't have to worry. I'm going to take care of everything."

That was it? The girl hesitantly looked up at the older boy. He glanced at her and then quickly avoided her eyes. His cheeks were looking a little red. He moved on from cleaning the pajamas and clumsily wiped at her mouth and teary eyes. While he cleaned her face, he elaborated on his first statement. This time, his speech was more hurried. He almost sounded nervous. He never looked her in the eye.

"I-I've already made all the arrangements. You will stay with me until you regain your health. You will be safe here. I-I will personally look after you. I will see to all your needs. You won't be treated badly. You will be treated as a member of my family."

The girl listened, but she couldn't believe what she was hearing.

"But I want to make one thing clear," Switzerland added. This time, he looked directly at her. His face was serious and full of resolve. The girl gave him her full attention. "I am not expecting any compensation whatsoever from you. I won't have you even thinking about paying me back for this. Is that understood?"

The girl gave a weak nod.

"All you need to concern yourself with is getting well again," he continued gently. "And you will get well," he firmly added. "I'll make sure of that. So please try to relax."

The girl was speechless. Did Switzerland really mean all that? He was still looking at her. His face was unwavering. The girl felt like a miracle had occurred. She and all of her people were going to be saved. The most unlikely person in Europe was coming to her rescue. He was going to let her stay in his home to be treated not as a slave, or as a servant, but as a "family member." The girl could feel more tears welling up. She smiled up at Switzerland with pure joy and gratitude.

"Danke," she whispered.

Switzerland's whole face went red. He jerked himself around and grabbed at the soup bowl.

"You don't have to thank me!" he grumbled.

The girl heard him muttering something about how he was just doing what anyone would do. But he was wrong. Not just anyone would be doing what he was doing. With much of Europe in financial trouble, most other nations would have either looked the other way or tried to take advantage of the girl. Switzerland was helping her when he barely even had enough to feed himself—and he was asking for nothing in return!

"Do you think you can finish this?" Switzerland asked, shoving the bowl towards her to show what was left of the soup.

"I-I can try."

The girl watched the older boy more closely while he fed her the last of the soup. She found that she could not take her eyes off him. For some reason, he did not seem quite as intimidating to her as he had been before. One thing that really captivated her was his eyes. For a country with scarce fertile land, Switzerland's eyes were awfully green. The girl thought they were very pretty. She took note of the fact that even though Switzerland's beautiful, green eyes always seemed to be scowling; his touch and actions towards her were gentle. She almost felt as if she was a child being cared for by an impatient, but loving, older brother. The girl slowly began to feel more at ease. Maybe Switzerland was not as cold-hearted as she had heard.

This has probably been done before, but I just had to do my take on this cute pair. I think it is so strange that the rough and tough, trigger-happy Switzerland reached out to help poor little Lichtenstein in her time of need. Strange, but very sweet! I love these two!

Gott sei dank-Thank God