written as a christmas present for a close friend; the whole concept/story is really half hers, i just wrote it down. happy christmas elisabeth!

baby, it's cold outside.

It is Christmas. The family likes to get together for it, just the five of them, alternating houses year to year. This year it's Norway's house, rustic, not overly large, well decorated—they've had drinks and talked and argued, rooms have been decided on, couch has been flipped for. Iceland and Finland will share, leaving Sweden to room alone and Denmark on the couch. Denmark had wanted to leave Sweden with that indignity, but the truth of the matter was that he wasn't going to end up on the sofa anyway, it was just for show; after all, Norway hadn't done the natural thing and put Iceland in with him.

But it was Christmas, and such arguments were part of the tradition too. Probably around four tomorrow afternoon Denmark and Sweden will have a fist-fight; after that they'd go into the woods and drink until they forgot the cold; after that they'd get worried over and yelled at and intimidated by Finland, Iceland, and Norway respectively.

Traditions are simply important like that.

But right now it is Christmas dinner. There is fish and three kinds of meat, cabbage of various kinds, cracklings and potatoes and sauces and thick bread. The host gets to favor their own national foods, and Norway's provided Icelandic options and a lone Finnish dish to be polite. Scandinavian foods are close enough that Sweden and Denmark can only sort-of quibble over differences anyway.

They sit and eat and talk about this and that. Politics. Construction projects. The economy and Ice's health. Sealand, home with England for the holidays. How the various territories are doing. Denmark and Finland overflow with compliments to the food; Sweden mumbles a couple, Iceland grudgingly deems it not bad—the puffin demands more fish. Even when they argue—often—it's not too heated. After all, Christmas is about family.

Of course, then it takes a turn for the strange.

They're talking about food, and then sausage, and then Denmark—who likes to pretend to know a lot of interesting facts, and who ignores that they're all quite old—says, "did ya know sausages are wrapped in intestine?"

"Yes," says Norway. Sweden also nods. Iceland ignores.

Finland tries to engage. "Ah, but nowadays, some people use synthetic wrapping, don't they? And Norway, don't you have a kind of sausage you wrap in potato, I've never really understood how that works to be honest, but there's all different kinds, isn't there?"

"Wrong. It's potetlefse, you," Norway says with his mouth full.

"Oh! It's totally different? Haha, my mistake…!" Finland has the courtesy to blush, although he doesn't realize what he got wrong.

Denmark decides the conversation is going too far off his planned course, which was him impressing everyone with his knowledge. "And intestines were also used as condoms!"

"Gross," Iceland mutters into his plate.

Finland and Sweden are both too embarrassed to comment, even though Sweden sort of wants to say he knew it, just to spite Denmark. And he had heard it somewhere. But what if everyone thought he knew it from experience? That would just be too embarrassing… ah. Maybe he could say something like everyone knows that, that would—

"Everyone knows that," Norway says, putting down his fork.


"Lots of things were used as condoms!" Denmark says, valiantly pressing on. This is always how it goes. Sooner or later he lands on a topic they can discuss, and will do so. It's just the getting there. It's like fishing. "Like, like uh… sandwich bags?"

"No one wants to hear this!" Finland squeaks, and Iceland is starting to say something in agreement when all at once Norway's chair scrapes back, and he stands. Iceland relaxes. There we go. Nore will handle Den.

"Bro," he says in a reasonably threatening tone of voice. "We need to go and have sex now."

"Don't use that nickname and sex in the same sentence!" Denmark immediately objects, to everyone else's shock. Partially because of how rational a demand that is, and partially because that is his only objection. Finland, bright red, stammers something.

"I've thought about it, and I really need to do it right now." Norway's facial expression doesn't change, nor does his tone. Only a very slight blush proves that he's not joking in that straight faced way of his.

Sweden realizes his mouth is open, and shuts it.

Iceland is staring at them with wide eyes.

Denmark pokes at his plate. "Can it wait, I'm eating."

"No." Norway comes around the table; Finland ducks forward when he passes. Then he grabs Denmark by the tie and yanks, pulling him so that the only way he can breath is by standing up. Which, choking and gasping, he does. "Stop delaying. Your food will get cold." Denmark waves his hands in a complicated arch, still choking. Norway nods and lets go, understanding some message no one else wanted to get. "Excuse us," he says to the rest of the table.

He stops to ruffle Iceland's hair on the way out of the dining room, Denmark rubbing his neck and grinning sheepish, and Iceland flinches.

It's very quiet.

For several long minutes, the three of them stare at their plates and avoid eye contact. Sweden is wondering when the other two thirds of Scandinavia got so… that. Iceland is wishing he had any two other brothers in the universe right now, even England and Sealand.

Finland just seems to have gone into shock.

Eventually the puffin gets sick of it and pecks Iceland's hand, hard. "Oii, you gonna finish your fish?"

That breaks the spell. With awkward throat clearing, the three of them seem to silently decide to pretend nothing happened and resume eating. Finland is still nervous, and yelps when Sweden asks him to pass the water pitcher, which sets Sweden off into his own nervous fit. Iceland, wanting to get through dinner as fast as possible now, shovels food in as though he's being timed. Or American.

Then there is a moan.

And silence as all the silverware stops moving. At least until the second one. Soft, sure, and not too close, but loud enough to be heard over the lack of conversation, and it's followed by a thump. Iceland somehow manages to speak. "Did… anyone hear them close a door?"

Finland looks stricken and Sweden looks constipated, both of which probably mean no. They didn't close the bedroom door. As if in confirmation, there are two more thumps and another moan. "It'll be 'ver so'n," Sweden says gruffly. He's trying to be encouraging, but it sounds like a threat. But for once he doesn't mind.

Finland trembles and then suddenly wails, overlapping another series of moans and thumps. "How can they j- just do this? With us—" he kind of wants to say in the same town, but instead finishes "right here? Don't they have any… any…"

"No," Iceland says. He's blushing. Sweden nods in agreement, and Iceland looks at him, bright red and trying to frown. "You should go say something to them!" By merit of being the scariest and meanest and a jerk, is implied—Iceland doesn't have anything against Sweden personally, but being raised by Denmark and Norway leaves you with certain perceptions.

"'m not goin' in there," Sweden mumbles, blushing down at his plate. Truthfully he wants to go there quite a bit and get started on beating up Denmark, possibly also Norway, but then he might risk seeing something gross and truth be told, his desire to not be further embarrassed outweighs his desire to punch Denmark in the face.

Another series of moans. Finland slides down in his chair, covering his face with both hands. Iceland shudders. Puffin tilts his head. "Was that Norway?"

Finland now appears to be hiding under the table. That's the last straw for Sweden. His wife is much too pure for this kind of thing. The two of them have never even… He stands up suddenly and therefore awkwardly, knocking over his glass and spilling wine all over the tablecloth, his plate, and Iceland's lap. Iceland swears. Sweden decides to ignore this and stick to the intended point. "Th's 's too much. We're…"

Bang, bang, thud, moan. Sweden shudders.

"…Goin' outs'de."

Fifteen minutes later, Denmark—shirt inside-out, hair messier than usual—and Norway—immaculate—return the the dining room. Both their faces and collars are damp; they considerately took a moment to wash up before rejoining the family. Denmark stops in the doorway, his smug grin turning into something much more confused. The dining room is empty. Sweden's wine is staining the tablecloth red, Finland's chair is upturned, and Iceland's puffin… well, the puffin is still there, chowing down on the abandoned spread.

"Where did everyone go?" Denmark asks Norway.

Norway walks over to Sweden's chair with distaste, picking up the wine glass. "He owes me two hundred kroner for the tablecloth." This is clearly all Norway is concerned about. He shoos the puffin away and it feigns mute, squawking and flying up to sit on Denmark's head.

"We didn't take that long." Denmark tries to shoo the bird away and fails. "They're gonna miss dessert and presents."

Norway has already figured out exactly what's going on, unlike Denmark. Also unlike Denmark, he really doesn't care. "Sweden can also pay me for the dinner the bird ruined. That's another four hundred."

"Maybe they went to buy more presents for us!" Denmark says happily, ever the optimist.

The three of them sit crammed in Sweden's car, Iceland taking up the entire backseat by himself, sending angry texts to his friends. Periodically Sweden glares at him to try and get him to take his feet off the leather, but it doesn't work.

Finland is still trembling. "D- do you think it's safe to go back yet?"

Sweden considers this. If it was Denmark's idea, maybe, but Norway was an unknown entity. "Give it 'nother fifteen minutes," he says at last, staring at the snowdrifts outside, then turning up the car heater.