I've been utterly obsessed with Hetalia lately. Since Switzerland and Liechtenstein are the sweetest thing ever (seriously, they tie with AlMei), I had to write something for them. I don't usually use their human names, but Vash Zwingli is perhaps the most epic two words I have ever heard in my entire life and cannot simply be ignored. Seriously, look me straight in the eye and tell me you don't want to be called Vash Zwingli. I do, and I'm a girl.
Please review if you like it! They really make my day ^_^
Anyway, enjoy! Warning: Do not read if allergic to fluff. You will die.
It was six o'clock on an unusually warm Saturday evening when Lili saw the first bouquet. She'd walked into the kitchen and tied on her apron with the intention of cooking dinner when they caught her eye. Sitting on the countertop in a glass vase were a bunch of roses, bright red and freshly cut. She leant down and sniffed them, inhaling the smooth, sweet aroma, and smiled. Vash had never much liked unnecessary decoration – 'flowers are far too expensive', he'd told her as they passed a bouquet vendor at the shops one day – so unless she went and picked her own, they never had anything like this around the house. It was very unlike him to do something like this, now she thought about it. Roses cost the most out of all the different flowers at the market, and it wasn't even like it was a special occasion. Lili stood back to admire them, then opened the cupboard to fetch the ingredients for a cheese fondue, smiling to herself all the while. Whatever had possessed Vash to buy these, it would be nice to have some colour in the kitchen for a while.
"I like your roses, big brother," she said, sitting with him at the dinner table later that night. "They're pretty. We should have flowers around here more often."
Vash scowled down at his cheese as though it had done him a great personal wrong. "I told you not to call me that."
"I'm sorry. But they really are very nice." She smiled encouragingly at him. He sometimes got like this when there was something wrong at work, and she thought of it as her duty to cheer him up on his time off.
He looked up at her, sighed, and smiled reluctantly back. "I'm glad you like them. But don't get used to it – flowers are expensive, so I'm not buying any more."
But he did buy more. A few days later, Lili was strolling down the hallway to make breakfast, still wearing her pink pyjamas and slippers, when she noticed a vase full of orchids. She did a double-take and stared at them, equal parts pleased and shocked. One bouquet was one thing, but two in less than a week? Since when did Vash waste money on frivolities such as flowers? Hadn't he told her that they cost too much and warned her not to expect any more of them?
Oh well. Lili beamed at the orchids and leant forwards to smell them. They made the corridor look more open somehow, like the great outdoors was in there with them, and she had always loved orchids. She left them on their windowsill and continued down the corridor, taking her time. It was a lovely morning, with golden sunlight streaming through the windows and casting streaks across the carpet, and she planned to make the most of her day off. Running Liechtenstein wasn't too difficult – she had the help of Switzerland, after all – but it did get tiring after a while.
She slipped into the kitchen to see Vash already standing over the stove, bags full of food still sitting on the counter and waiting to be put away. He was already fully dressed, but in a casual shirt and trousers rather than his usual military uniform. She watched for a moment as he pushed the bacon and eggs around the pan impatiently before coming up to stand next to him.
"You're up early."
He jumped, almost flipping a rash of steaming bacon into her face. "God Lili, you scared me!"
"I'm sorry, big brother."
"I thought I told you not to call me that. And yeah, I went out to the market early this morning. If you want to help out, you can put all that away." He gestured to the bags on the counter without looking away from his pan.
She nodded and dutifully began to unpack the food, stacking it neatly in the cupboard and fridge. It was the usual cheap stuff, she noted. It wasn't bad, as such – Vash would never buy blatantly low quality food for them – but it was a far cry from the fancy gourmet meals they had at Roderich and Francis's houses. That meant he hadn't suddenly eschewed his frugal ways and gone on a reckless spending spree. So why all the flowers?
"I noticed the orchids in the hallway," she said, putting some Swiss sausages into the fridge.
He grunted, eyes still focused on his bacon as though afraid it might make a break for freedom.
"They're lovely," she continued. "But why are you buying flowers all of a sudden? I thought you told me they were too expensive."
"Yeah, well…" He was putting the eggs and bacon onto plates now, still not making eye contact. "I just saw them in the market this morning and thought they were nice, that's all. But don't expect any more, okay?"
Lili didn't expect any more – two was extraordinary, and more than that was almost unthinkable – but, to her bewilderment, more came. Tulips in the living room, daisies by the front door, daffodils in the hall, even a vase of lilies in her bedroom. It seemed that every time Vash went shopping he came back with a new bouquet to put somewhere in the house. At first Lili was walking on air; the house smelled wonderful and there was colour and beauty everywhere she looked. They lifted her spirits every time she saw them, but Vash seemed to be experiencing the opposite effect. He became quieter and moodier with every new bouquet that found its way into their house, and Lili could not work out why. Surely it was impossible to feel sad when you were surrounded by flowers? She put it down to his work; perhaps there was some sort of crisis in Switzerland that was bringing him down. She hadn't heard of anything, but Vash had never been one for confiding his feelings and she didn't want to be the one to remind him of his troubles by quizzing him about them. It wasn't the first time, after all; Liechtenstein wasn't exactly at the centre of current events.
After the house had been slowly filling up with flowers for a month, even Lili had to admit that it was getting a bit excessive. It seemed like every flat surface had flowers on it, which got annoying when she needed to do paperwork. She began to find pollen stains on her clothes and petals all over the floor; she had to sweep twice as much these days and dead flowers still managed to litter the house. Flowers didn't live for very long after all, no matter how much she cared for them. But it seemed like every time she threw a dead bouquet out, Vash would fill the space with two more. Every time she asked him about it, he would tell her that these were the last ones, but then he'd return from the market next time with yet another bundle of flowers. His moods hadn't improved either; he wasn't angry or depressed or even worried, just… annoyed. Frustrated with life, infuriated with the world at large. Lili couldn't work out why, and she wasn't about to ask. She just kept sweeping up petals, washing pollen off clothes and cleaning out the dead flowers, hoping that one day Vash would come to his senses and realise that a single room did not need twenty bouquets.
Vash woke up early the next day. He was dressed and out the door in less than fifteen minutes, a hastily made half-eaten sandwich in his hand, his hair still messy and his shirt only half tucked in. No more flowers, he told himself sternly. No more. You can go to the market without buying a bouquet this time. You've been doing it for eight centuries, it can't be that difficult. It was getting ridiculous; his clothes and paperwork had been covered in pollen stains recently and it seemed like everywhere he went there were flowers in the way. Even Lili was getting annoyed by it. She pretended to be thrilled every time he gave her another bouquet and diligently looked after them all, but her smiles were a little forced and she spent more time sweeping and cleaning these days than she'd ever had to before. That's it. No more flowers.
He reached the market just as the shops began to open, the morning mist still drifting around the streets, illuminated by a sun that was still pale and low in the sky. This was where he had found Lili, all those years ago. He still remembered it like it was yesterday; he'd been caught out in the storm and was hurrying home, cursing the weather and his bad luck, when he'd seen her. She'd looked so helpless, like she'd given up on life, huddled in the corner with her clothes sodden and her eyes glazed and empty. He had no doubt that she would've died there that day if he hadn't stopped. He was in no fit state to be picking up strays, but he couldn't just leave her there. There were some things that everyone should be expected to do, just common decency and humanity. He'd taken the young girl home and given her a hot meal – he'd gone hungry that day, but he'd barely noticed. He told himself that once she was fit and healthy again he'd send her on her way, but he could never quite bring himself to do it. She became a part of his life, a familiar face, the first real family he'd had since he and Roderich were on speaking terms.
And so they had scraped by, just the two of them against the world, and he'd managed to convince her that feeding her wasn't costing him the money he would otherwise have spent on food for himself. That was how they had lived until his circumstances had improved and money began to flow freely into Switzerland again. He had retained some of the frugal habits he had developed back then, but he had money to buy them both food and nice clothes and other comforts. For some reason, he always found himself spending more on Lili than he did on himself. He could convince himself that he didn't need another shirt or a better chair for his office, but Lili was another story. She never asked for anything, but he was happy to give her whatever she wanted. He usually loathed spending money, but when Lili was involved it became a sort of guilty pleasure.
He kicked a stone along as he walked, hands in his pockets and a scowl on his face. He'd never been good with emotional stuff like this. All he knew was that Lili wasn't his little sister any more, and the words 'big brother' kindled an irrational hatred inside him whenever they left her mouth. He had begun to notice the smooth lines of her face, the way she stepped so lightly when she walked it was as if she were dancing, how cute she looked when her hair fell in her eyes. He'd begun to feel self-conscious in a way he never had before; strange jolts went through his stomach whenever she touched him, like he'd just jumped off the highest building in Zurich, and he began to treasure every smile she gave him. He'd been very confused for a very long time, but it hadn't been difficult to work out what these feelings meant.
Vash worked his way down the shopping list Lili had written for him in her graceful, loopy handwriting, dotting all the I's with little hearts. That was an annoying habit of hers, and one that he loved despite how embarrassing it was when all Liechtenstein's tax reports looked like a twelve-year-old's love letters. He didn't have a lot to buy, but it always took him twice as long as everyone else because he worked out every price and discount and long-term customer saving on a pocket calculator he carried with him for situations such as these. By the time he'd crossed off every item on the list, the sun was well above the horizon and all the mist had disappeared from the streets.
And the flower cart was open for business.
The little wooden cart was covered in flowers of all shapes and sizes, like mother nature herself had smiled down upon that particular vendor. He stared straight ahead and forced himself to keep walking. No! No more flowers, remember? Flowers. Lili did love flowers. He remembered the time she'd planted her own flowerbed in the garden a few years ago; she'd looked so peaceful out there, wandering among the coloured blossoms with her watering can. He remembered when Feliks taught her how to make daisy chains and she'd spent hours in the garden, poking holes in stems and threading the tiny flowers into flimsy ropes. It had all been fun and games until he forgot to take one off and Roderich caught him at a meeting with a daisy chain around his neck.
He had been planning to tell her for months now. What better way to let her know how he felt than with a bouquet of flowers? A scene swam through his mind of himself proclaiming his love in free verse, down on one knee and presenting a swooning Lili with the most beautiful bouquet he could imagine, and his steps began to slow.
No! This happens every time you go to the market and it never turns out like that! What's wrong with you? He sped up, desperate to turn the corner and leave the flower cart behind. Be strong, Vash.
"Guten morgen!" called the vendor, looking up and spotting him. "You again! Flowers are fifty percent off today!"
And so Vash returned to the house that morning, a bouquet of roses under his arm and his heart beating so hard he wondered if it would start popping out of him like Russia's. Today was the today. Today was the day that his dreams would become reality, that he would finally confess all to Lili. Today was the first day of the rest of his life.
He was still determined to tell her, which was an achievement in itself. He usually talked himself out of it on the path back to their house. That was the place he usually decided against it, but the outskirts of the market, their road, the driveway, their gate and the front garden were also common places for second thoughts. But he'd made it to the door today. He'd never made it that far before. He stared at the doorknob as though it were the one obstacle separating him from eternal happiness and, gritting his teeth as though preparing for impact, he twisted it and pushed the door open.
"Vash!" called Lili, leaning through the kitchen door and almost taking her eye out with the rhododendrons hanging next to the doorframe. "Do you need help with all that- oh. You bought more flowers."
"Yeah," he said, feeling all his reckless bravado draining away like someone had pulled a plug deep inside his chest. "They're roses. White ones this time."
"Lovely!" She forced a smile onto her face and took the bouquet from him, inhaling their scent. "They're beautiful, Vash. I think there's still a space on top of the filing cabinet in my office… oh wait, no, I put the carnations you got me last time there. There might still be room in my bathroom somewhere…"
He watched her hurry off to find a place for the roses, and a small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. This was ridiculous. The house was overflowing with his gifts to the point where they were forced to stuff flowers into the strangest of places, but she still beamed when he presented her with yet another bouquet. She still thanked him, ran off to put it somewhere and walked around trimming leaves and refilling water every day, dutifully caring for them all as best she could. Maybe today wasn't the day to tell her after all. But he knew that whether he found the courage tomorrow, next week or six months from now, she would be there waiting, a smile on her face and, most likely, a bucket full of dead petals in her hand.
Maybe he'd tell her next time.