His Heart

Important Notes: This is pretty much directly inspired by Christmas Wishes by LostKingdomOfCheese. Well, the first chapter of it. And credit goes where credit is due. It has one of the most adorable Christmas prompts for SuFin, and well, I thought that a bit more could be done with it… So like, yeah. And we're walking… And we're walking…

-o-

It was that time of year. He could tell as soon as he'd opened his violet shaded eyes that morning – the way his chest seemed to swell with a wordless elation, or how, despite the snow and the chill outside, everything seemed so vastly bright and cheerful and new. He thought of jingling bells and radiant red bows under sturdy boughs of evergreen with waxy needles. The smell of holiday confectionaries permeating from every home and chimney, the lazy warmth of a late night fire and a warm mug of rich, hot cocoa nestled between his hands.

In short, Finland loved winter – mostly because winter was the season that brought with it one of his most favorite and cherished holidays. Christmas.

He sat up with a wakeful stretch of his arms, careful not to rouse the sleeping nation that lay next to him; not quite touching, but not far away either. Finland sent the sleeping blond man a contented look, because Sweden wasn't frightening in even the slightest when he slept. In fact, Finland found the fact that the nation slept with a slight pout on his face, his lower lip wet and protruding in just the perfect way for it to be childishly adorable without overdoing it. And without his silver rimmed spectacles, he looked less severe but also less wizened.

Finland sighed, pushing the blankets away from his legs and making sure to pull them up gently over Sweden's exposed shoulder and back. Shivering with anticipation, he let his legs dangle off the side of the welcoming bed, his warm toes dusting over the surface of the cold wooden floor. A delightful tingle raced up his body from the brief touch of the distinct contrast.

He loved to feel snug, warm and safe – all of which he felt within their shared bed (if only physically, not emotionally). But to find such things comforting, one had to venture from it; and with a light hiss of wind being sucked between his teeth, he stood, quickly making way for his favorite slippers and delicately toeing his feet into their cotton cushioned protection.

With a decisive nod he shuffled his way down the old steps, placing his feet in all the right spots to help alleviate the chronic groaning that they would emit. It wasn't his intention to wake the other nation – just like every morning. The rooms around him were frigid, chilling his balmy skin with cold kisses as he tossed more wood into the hearth, stirring the ashes of last night's life.

When the fire was lit and a kettle of water set to boil above it, he shivered and went to the door, retrieving Sweden's favorite coat and slinging it around his own shoulders, slightly amused and somewhat dismayed at how large and broad Sweden's shoulders were as he snaked his hands through the fur-lined arms, not quite reaching the cuffs with his fingertips. But he was content to snuggle into the oversized coat that smelled wonderfully of chopped wood and musty earth.

As he waited for the kettle to whistle – singing a cheery song of morning and rousing – Finland nestled onto the couch, his toes curling happily within his slippers. Their home was a simple one, built by Sweden's own capable hands, along the wilderness that encompassed the Swedish-Finnish border. And as much as Tino liked technology and advancements in living – he still felt that simple was the best, and that as a nation, he should never forget the roots of which he came. (Although at the constant behest of Estonia and Lithuania, he and Sweden had conceded to a water spigot in their backyard – the same one that only let out a few trickles of water as the pipe froze solid over the winter.)

Suddenly the copper kettle burst into a piercing song, and Finland jumped to his feet, carefully removing the blistering hot vessel with a hooked, iron rod and carried it into the kitchen to set it atop the wood burning stove. Sweden would definitely be awake now, and Finland was sure he could hear feet shuffling sleepily somewhere in the rooms above.

Deciding that he was too tired to try and filter coffee this morning, Finland reached into one of the finely crafted cupboards and retrieved a box of strong Earl Grey tea that Sweden liked – and Finland, sometimes he hardly found a difference between that and watered down coffee. Silently he went through his morning ritual, wrapping a thick white towel around the kettle handle and pouring steaming water into two openmouthed acrylic-painted mugs, dipping in the teabags and placing the cutting board over the tops to keep the steam from pouring out and their drinks from cooling too fast while they waited for the herbs to flavor their water.

"Good Morning, Su-san!" he chirped merrily as soon as he heard the familiar slap of rubber-sole slippers against the polished wooden floor of the kitchen. "It's strong tea this morning!"

Sweden's face was like an immovable mask – carved from stone and set with two brilliantly shining gems that were like a long look into a deep ocean of clear water. And at first, that face had terrified him, but after all the years, it had become more of an inconvenience to Finland as he tried to understand what the other nation was feeling and thinking. "… Nnn…" was Sweden's grunted reply, his voice thick with sleep. Sometimes, while they waited for their morning drinks, Finland would notice Sweden's hands twitch by his sides, or how he would take half a step closer, rethink it, and step back once again.

But Finland wished that the larger nation would simply act – to reach out to him, maybe, or tap him on the shoulder; whatever it was that Sweden had wanted to do. It was a strange dance they had perfected over the years, and even though Finland knew every step and beat by heart, he still wasn't sure what they were dancing around.

"Tha's m'coat," Sweden so eloquently muttered, finally reaching out for once to tug playfully on the coat's hood, although his face retained its normal gloom.

Finland laughed, pushing a few blond hairs away from his eyes – must be time for a haircut soon. "Yeah, sorry about that Su-san! I was cold and your coat was hung up over the top of mine. So I just borrowed yours, is that okay?"

"Hnn… s'fine wit' m'. Ya sure 'r awf'ly 'appy t'is mornin', m'wife."

The embarrassed and somewhat emasculated blush that crept over Finland's face and ears was hidden when he pulled the coat's hood over his messy blond hair. He wasn't sure if he hated being called that – wife. Wasn't it a term of endearment? Or something of that nature that dealt with family and love, neither of which Finland was sure they had. They were simply two nations, coexisting for the benefit of their peoples and their countries. So whenever he heard that term fall from Sweden's mangled speech, he was never sure if the larger nation was joking or simply teasing him.

Instead he decided to ignore it, like he usually did these days. Maybe if Sweden stopped getting a reaction he liked, then maybe Sweden would stop saying it – or so Finland hoped. "Can't you feel it, Su-san?" he asked instead, turning his head to face the other nation, only to have the enormous hood of the coat obstruct his view. "It's the holidays! They're coming! Soon everything in town is going to be decorated and there'll be lots of sweets and those gooey tea cakes that you make, Su-san! And soon," he continued with unbidden glee, "I'll start getting Santa-Letters!"

"S'nta-Lett'rs, hn…" A somewhat thoughtful look passed within those clear eyes as Finland busied himself with the final preparations for their tea, handing Sweden a toasty mug for his chilled fingers. "Ya read ev'ry one 'o th'se t'ings?" he asked hesitantly.

"Of course I do! They're so cute – except the lewd ones from France. I love it when little kids ask for sweet things, like for a little brother or to be really tall when they grow up!" Suddenly Finland brightened further, his holiday spirit outshining even the rising sun over the blinding blanket of wrinkled snow. "Su-san! You should write Santa a letter this year! For something that you really, really, really want! Please?" How many years had they lived together now? A few decades, maybe? And even though Sweden knew that Finland gifted every nation with presents on Christmas as Santa Claus, the larger nation had yet to write him a single letter indicating what he wanted.

Although Finland had to admit it would be silly to address and mail a letter to your own house – he at least wanted to know what Sweden really wanted for Christmas! Finland was tired of giving him little things that everyone liked – candies, clothes, etc. Sweden looked down at Finland's eager face and sighed in defeat. "I s'pose I c'uld…"

Finland's smile grew, if that were even possible, looking so thrilled that his face could have split in two at any moment. "Thank you, Su-san!" he twittered, scooping up his own mug with a delighted sigh. "I can't wait for Christmas to get here now!" Finland skittered back up the stairs to change into his clothes for the day, his heart racing in his chest, each beat echoed in his ears like the rolling pulse of war drums.

But as Finland dressed, excited for the days to come and pass, Sweden stared through the kitchen window, a frown deepening on his normally downturned features. Write a wish list letter to Santa Claus – to Finland? He wouldn't even know what to ask for, what he was allowed to ask for. Because Sweden, as he told himself often, already had everything he wanted: a home, a good boss, and Finland. To ask for anything more, well, that would be ludicrous. And yet, he found it so hard to deny Finland of anything he wanted, and if Finland wanted a letter, then Sweden was going to have to think long and hard about what he wanted.

-o-

"Look Su-san! The first of the letters arrived!" Finland announced as he burst into the house, a hefty stack of letters tied together with twine in his hands. He shook the snow from his coat and peeled off his tall boots before dashing to their kitchen table to set down the letter stack. Finland grabbed a knife from a drawer and cut the twine, letting the letters spill out over their handcrafted table, sanded, smoothed and varnished with precision by Sweden, ignoring the fact that Sweden himself sat at the table, gingerly carving something from a block of wood, his brow heavy with concentration.

Soon that concentration was swept away in Finland's overexcitement, the smaller nation gasping and cawing over each letter – envelopes scattered everywhere; some white, some decorated and colored by hands no older than four years old. Some were fancy, embroidered with pressed inks and indentations of mistletoe and wreaths.

Finland picked one at random and peeled it open, his violet eyes pouring over the letter hungrily. "Aww, Su-san read this one!" he exclaimed, holding out the wrinkled letter written on simple lined-paper that schools would hand out. Sweden set down his project on the counter behind him – lest it get lost in the sea of envelopes, and took the letter from Finland's excited fingers.

"Dear Santa," it said – a decent way to start any letter, Sweden supposed, "This year for Cristmas I really just want a few things. I really want a litle cat that will play with my big cat. I also really want a toy baot. I also really want a apple pie becase they are yummy! From Timmy Trovanski, second grade."

Sweden read over the letter once again, feeling somewhat confused. Sure, it was cute; the big blocky handwriting written in orange crayon, the innocent way it was worded, even the spelling mistakes made it charming in its own right. But Sweden wasn't sure what Finland was trying to get at – was this maybe his way of saying, 'Hurry up and give me a letter?' or was he trying to persuade Sweden into thinking about what he really wanted? With a sigh, Sweden set the letter in Finland's rapidly growing 'been read' pile. "S'cute," he mumbled as he stood, taking his carving project into his hands.

Finland paused in his fevered reading to glance up at Sweden. "Oh…? Where are you going, Su-san?" he asked, his features dropping slightly, wondering if maybe he had offended the other nation somehow.

"Jus' goin' ta w'rk on t'is," Sweden grumbled out, holding the partially carved wood out for Finland to see. And for a moment he wondered why Finland looked so glum when his normal cheer was a thousand-fold this time of year. After another moment's pause he retrieved the trashcan from the corner of the room, settling it next to the table and turning his chair. "… Hnn… dun wan' ta get th' sh'vin's on yer lett'rs…"

Like a switch, Finland's face cracked a wide grin as Sweden sat back down. "Oh! What're you making Su-san? Is it for Christmas?"

And as they settled back down to their tasks, Sweden couldn't help but think of his own letter to the cheerful nation.

Is all I want is for you to be happy.

-o-

Sweden hefted a large box down their groaning staircase, watching Finland bound down them with hardly contained glee. The box jingled and chimed with every heavy step he took, speaking to him of all the wonderful things that lay inside – the massive smile and childish laughter that would spill from Finland like an overturned cup.

"Su-san, Su-san! Come on, hurry up!" Finland chided from the living room like a small child, positively glowing with excitement. Even so, Sweden took his time carefully descending the stairs and deposited the box in the middle of the living room floor. "Ah! Su-san, I'm so glad you agreed to decorate today! Look at the snow outside! I probably couldn't find the mailbox if I tried!"

Sweden glanced out the window, already knowing that all he'd face was a curtain of white, fat snowflakes falling rapidly from thick and ominous clouds. Tomorrow he would have to sweep the roof; it'd been awhile since he had done it last, and he worried over a cave-in at any moment. "…Hnn…" Winter surely was troublesome at times.

Finland tugged on the sleeve of his jacket, peering up at him with impudently violet eyes. "Hey, what's with the gloomy face, huh?" He frowned before it quickly grew into another beaming smile. "Su-san, let's decorate! And then tomorrow, when the weather lifts, we can do the chores and get a tree from the forest!"

Surrendering to the smaller nation's whims, Sweden bent and slipped his fingers under the cardboard panels of the box, opening it with a soft hiss of paper sliding against paper. Gobs of colors and metals and plants met his eyes as Finland automatically began digging through the surplus of décor. Sweden watched as Finland pulled out a long length of garland fashioned to look like the snowy boughs of a pine, handing one end to Sweden and smiling as he pointed to the corner of the ceiling on one side of the room.

"Let's start there, Su-san," Finland chirped; his face was a mixture of thrilled anticipation and sweet patience for the larger nation.

Soon the house was covered in Christmas – bright red bows and angels graced every corner; golden, shimmering sparkles of ribbons and garlands gleaned between picture frames and wound around the railing of the staircase; atop the mantle sat a small collection of winter houses with candles sitting inside, ready to light even the darkest of homes. Sweden let a finger trail over one of the finely painted roofs and wondered if maybe that's what their house looked like right now. Snug and beautiful, without so much as a worry in this tumultuous weather.

Finland sighed with accomplishment, nearly tripping over a decoration he had decided not to use and tossed it back into the box. "Too bad we can't get to the sauna," he said with a flush. "Right about now would be perfect for that."

Sweden nodded in agreement. Running around in circles, following Finland's rushed, excited instructions on decoration placement had his muscles aching in ways that chopping wood and furnishing never did. "Oh! I have a great idea, Su-san!" Finland said with sudden enthusiasm, continuing to pick up a few missed decorations from the couch and floor. "Since we can't get to the sauna, how about a hot bath instead! We still have plenty of the day left, and you know we won't sleep well if we don't do some kind of work!"

"S'unds good ta me," he mumbled, heading for the front door to retrieve his boots and heavy coat. Finland soon joined him with a bucket in each hand, giving them to Sweden once the man was properly dressed. "Ya get th' fire goin' 'n I'll st'rt gettin' th' sn'w."

Finland nodded, pulling on his own boots in preparation for the cold that would soon sweep through their little home before stepping outside quickly and gathering an armful of logs, brushing off the snow and hauling them inside to the kitchen. Finland tossed a couple of the logs into the bottom of the stove, shivering happily as he lit the fire. He probably should have put his coat on, but he'd worked up a good sweat decorating, and the winter wind that swept through the house now felt good against his moistened skin.

Sweden waded a little ways from the house, scooping the snow from a white, pristine looking snow drift into the buckets and taking them back inside, helping Finland tuck the packed snow into the several kettles they owned, settling them atop the warming stove and allowing the snow to melt as Sweden ventured out to gather more, knowing that a bucketful of snow melted into maybe a glassful.

They continued like that for a while. Each kettle that was filled completely with water, beads of sweat running down the metal as it whistled with heat, Finland would wrap a towel around its handle and haul it up the stairs to pour it into the basin of their wide, porcelain bathtub.

"This should be the last one," Finland said with an accomplished sounding sigh, as Sweden shucked off his boots and coat, letting the buckets rest against the closed door. "Su-san, why don't you take the first bath? You must be awfully cold from running in and out like that." He looked up at the taller nation with bright violet eyes, a merry light dancing in their depths.

Sweden couldn't deny that he felt chilled, his pants wet above the knees from a few stumbles and accidently venturing into the taller snow banks. But Finland simply smiled at his hesitation, his sweetly angled nose red from the wind that escaped into the house and his cheeks flushed from the steam that was carried briskly to his face from the heated kettles. "F'tha's wha' ya want…"

Finland smiled pleasantly, handing Sweden the final kettle of boiling water. "If I didn't want it," he said with a small laugh waiting to erupt from the back of his throat, "then I wouldn't have asked for it."

Those words rang through Sweden's head as he slowly dipped himself into the hot bath waters, feeling his face warm with rising steam, and his toes tingled as the ice was driven away by lapping water. It was true, Finland never asked for much; simply company and a few odds and ends. Unlike himself, who asked constantly for Finland's happiness; for his attention, for his everything. Sweden was as selfish as Finland was selfless, and that made him feel horrible.

But Finland had asked for one thing – a letter. He traced the pads of his fingers over the top of the water's surface, watching the little rings that rippled from his intrusion. Maybe he should ask for something material and simple – like a new set of tools for wood crafting in the summer, or perhaps new gloves and a pair of thick socks. And even though any of those items would be much appreciated, he felt that they weren't something that qualified as really, really, really wanted.

With a groan he dunked his head under water.

I want you to smile for me.

-o-

Finland flipped through his stack of letters, becoming rather swamped with them lately. The big day was getting closer and closer and he could feel the holiday cheer and excitement rattling deep in his bones. He could hear Sweden brushing off drifts of snow from the roof again; a large storm blew in overnight and chilled their little home. With a sigh he adjusted the light from the oil lamp that sat next to his chair, the sun slowly setting in the west. He was looking for one letter in particular, but was somewhat disappointed to find that there wasn't one from his neighboring nation at all.

But an envelope the color of ripened olives and a red, twisting trim caught his attention and he pulled it from the thick stack, opening it with tired fingers.

"Dear Santa," it opened, as most normal letters did, "or perhaps just 'Finland' would suffice. I am not in want of anything this year, except for something immaterial; and there is far from any hope of either you or I in obtaining it. So now you're probably wondering why I even bothered writing this letter. I believe it's more for my bewildered conscience than it is for you. And even though I haven't given you an inkling of my intentions, I feel relief already. If you would be so kind this year, do an old man a favor. Send that git America something decent. I don't want to be on the receiving end of his childish phone-tantrums again this year. Happy Christmas, England."

Finland read and reread the letter several times, a sullen feeling aching in the cradle of his chest for England. How could the nation want nothing at all? And then turn around to ask for something for someone else? Christmas was a time for celebration, for family, love, food and cherishment.

He paused, listening to Sweden's steps as he walked across the roof of the house carefully – or at least he hoped it was carefully. A small smile jerked onto his face and he tucked the letter with scrawling cursive handwriting into the drawer of the end table – a place for the important letters (usually the nations and on rare occasions people of import that actually believed in Santa – which was very rare). America was like England's family, although they really didn't act like it, Finland was sure they cared for each other. And so he felt that he had to find a way to fulfill England's selfless request and maybe, if his gut was right, help get the island nation a step closer to his immaterial want.

The door opened and a little gust of wind put out the flicker of flame in his lamp. With a tiny sigh he turned to the lazy fire in the hearth, pondering the effort it would take to stand up and toss another log inside.

"Ya cold?" Finland jumped at the sudden question, giving Sweden a terrified look before melting back into relaxation. He hadn't heard the other nation approach, but that happened often as his mind wandered. Sweden's narrow eyes flashed to the lowering fire and then to the messy stack of envelopes in Finland's lap. "Ya sh'uldn't read n' th' d'rk," the tall nation grumbled, moving to the fireplace to toss a couple fresh logs into the licking flames.

Sleepily Finland scooped up another letter and opened it effortlessly. "I had my lamp earlier, but it blew out when you opened the door. It's really cold out tonight, isn't it, Su-san?"

"…Hnn…" Sweden prodded the fire with an iron poker until the flames leaped forth and engulfed the dried lumber hotly, bringing a happy, orange glow to the room around them. Setting the poker back into its place, Sweden disappeared upstairs for a few minutes and Finland scanned over a few more letters in contentment. He knew what the other nation was doing, and approved whole heartedly. Soon Sweden returned with two fuzzy blankets he'd retrieved from the storage closet, pulling the letter from Finland's hands gingerly and setting it on the end table.

Finland complied; standing up once he'd relocated his letters safely and sat on the pillow before the fireplace. Sweden wrapped one of the blankets around Finland's shoulders like a mother would for her child, making Finland giggle into his hand.

Finland's hands sought his letter stack as Sweden trotted off into the kitchen where a kettle of hot water sat warming on the stove – as if Finland knew exactly what Sweden would want when he returned from his outdoor chores for the day. It was both heartwarming and depressing for Sweden – a taste of what could be, and what he could never have. He set himself to making hot cocoa from the pounds of powdered milk they kept for seasons such as this, when their jeep couldn't make it down the icy roads and sat uselessly half a mile down the road in a snow drift. He added cocoa powder to the mix and stirred.

Sweden liked the way Finland's hands would first wrap around the mug of the rich, chocolate beverage, letting the warmth seep into his nimble fingers, before he attentively sipped as to not scald his tongue – his cheeks warming with pleasure. "S'it good?" he asked, sitting down next to the smaller nation and pulling his own blanket across his broad shoulders.

"Delicious," Finland responded, a sweeping smile curving over the lip of his mug. "Su-san makes the best hot chocolate."

Sweden couldn't help but flush at the statement, trying to rid himself of the embarrassing heat by glaring at the sparkling embers of the fire that lay before them. He simply grunted something he figured sounded like a thank you, and Finland only laughed, their elbows knocking together. "So how was your day, Su-san? How deep is the snow this year? Do you think the people in the cities will be alright – I know they tend to panic a little on the coasts."

The taller nation did his best to answer each question, using three words or less. Finland never seemed to mind his lack for words, taking in everything he said with a smile and sometimes a confused quirk of his brow – not that Sweden indulged in elaboration when Finland did so, either, but he seemed to understand on most occasions. Actually, Sweden preferred to sit back and listen to Finland exuberantly recite his day, telling it with extra embellishments as if it were a tale of lore instead of how he managed to tackle doing laundry that morning.

It was because Finland was fascinating, rash, and adorable. And yet, he couldn't ever imagine that he himself was a target of fascination as well, because he was Sweden; tall, stern and boring. That's just how things were, he supposed, taking a long drink of his cocoa, which for some reason tasted bitter now.

I want you to understand me.

-o-

Finland tucked himself into the red suit, glad for the emergency repair Sweden had given the coat's sleeve only hours before. Was there anything Sweden couldn't do? He buckled his boots happily, a swelling excitement racing through his chest cavity. Tonight was the night – it was Christmas and he finally got to make his trip across the world, delivering gifts to the nations.

Sweden leaned over him, pushing his red cap onto his head and over his ears. He laughed, trying to adjust the red garment with a gloved hand. "H-hey, Su-san!" he protested meekly, "I can dress myself!" even though the impromptu stitching on his sleeve told them otherwise. Finland looked up at Sweden with a sheepish smile. "Are you going to wait up for me this year?"

"Ya. I'lways do." Finland flushed a little, muttering something about a draft in the house. Sweden didn't seem to share the smaller nation's excitement for the coming night, his face hard-set and his words came even less and more butchered than normal. His incandescent ocean eyes drifted to the sleigh and reindeer several times before snapping back to Finland's face.

The small nation took in a deep breath, trying to relax himself for the long night ahead. He smiled up at Sweden once more. "I'll see you when I get back," he breathed sweetly, opening the door to the cold world outside. Finland walked to the sleigh, a heavy weight on his shoulders as he did so. He'd gone through every last letter he'd received this year, hoping, praying even, for that one letter – but it had never come. What he couldn't fathom, however, is why he felt so… sad. Sweden had never written a letter before, and it had been okay. What made it so different now?

Sweden watched from the doorway as Finland clambered up into the sleigh, gripping the reins tightly in his gloved hands, and before he could change his mind about anything, Finland was gone, a speckle of red against the star pricked sky. Sweden walked back inside, shutting the door tightly and making his way to the fireplace, adding a few more logs to last the night.

Feeling lost, regretful and maybe, buried under it all, hopeful, he laid himself on the couch, pulling his blanket up under his chin as he stared impassively into the built fire. How could he make such a request of Finland? He couldn't believe his own audacity sometimes. Distracted, he played with a shimmering ornament that hung from the boughs of their Christmas tree, watching his own stern face bend and retract within the reflective surface. Hopefully Finland would at least appreciate his attempt at fulfilling his request. And if not… well, he didn't want to think about it.

-o-

The skies were invigorating for the soul, the wind breathing a new life into him as he flew for miles and miles, tossing presents and gifts to the world below. Sometimes he wished the little helper elves that America spouted to him about were real, digging through the bag of gifts was difficult while trying to maintain an even flight path.

His fingers brushed against something thin and papery– an envelope, he realized with a quizzical expression. He hadn't put that in his bag, as he'd memorized each present and matched it to every nation's face – just like he did every year. Curious he pulled the envelope from the bag, settling himself back down into his seat and examining it with interest. It was a plain white envelope, sealed with a dab of wax to keep it from opening. It was a bit difficult to peel it open with his thick gloves, but he managed, slipping out a folded and unassuming piece of paper.

Eager, he unfolded it and let his violet eyes consume each word.

"Dear Finland… Santa," it started, half of 'Finland' had been crossed out, but then the writer seemed to take it back and apply a new coat of ink over the word. "I promised to write this letter, and here it is. For Christmas I want my wife's heart."

The rest of the paper was blank, but he knew exactly who wrote it, that staunch handwriting cramped all onto one straight line gave it away. His breath caught in his throat and he clutched the letter to his chest. Sweden wanted his heart? Did he mean on a silver platter or something? Finland frowned. He was pretty sure Sweden hadn't meant for him to carve open his own chest and literally give him his heart.

And suddenly it all made sense. The awkward morning dance they shared – Sweden's hands almost reaching for him but restraining himself. The doting mother-hen complex, the silent stares and willingness to listen to even the stupidest things he found himself saying; the way Sweden always made sure he was warm and happy before he could sleep. Sweden only wanted his feelings returned – or maybe at least acknowledged. And Finland still had half a world's travel to figure out just how to do exactly that.

-o-

Sweden stirred when the fire suddenly went out, chilling him with a gust of frigid wind and wafting ashes. He sat up on the couch, squinting against the darkness that encompassed the room. He ran a hand through his yellow blond hair, ignoring the fact that a nervous sweat had accumulated in his hairline. He stood and headed back for the fireplace, intent on starting the fire once more. The first thing Finland liked to do when he returned home from his trip was curl up next to the fire for warmth and doze off.

As he picked up the box of matches they kept, something glittering and golden caught his eye. A white envelope, pale in the moonlight that trickled through the windows, lay in the center of the floor. A spot he was positive that there was nothing before.

Confused, he bent and picked up the envelope, deciding to light the oil lamp for now and took a seat in Finland's normal spot in his chair. His fingers trailed across the back, fingering the golden sticker that kept the vessel shut. Idly he flipped it over, a little surprised to find his name written on the front in what looked like red crayon.

"To Sweden. (It's Christmas, so you can open it now!)"

His heart stilled for a moment. Was this from Finland? Had he found his letter stashed away so soon? His throat tightened as he turned it back over, slowly, agonizingly, peeling the sticker from the back and pulling out a generic Christmas card. Although what made it stand out was the fact that the inked words of holiday cheer were written in some swirly, western European language – maybe Italian, if he had to hazard a guess. He opened the card with a hard swallow.

"Dear Su-san! I received your letter!" Sweden's grip tightened on the edges of the thick paper card, crinkling it. "And well, Su-san, I can't give you what you want this year. Because Su-san, (finish reading this, Su-san!), you already have it. You've had it for so long now, and I can't give you something that you already have. I hope that when I get home, you can think of a better present!"

It was as if every muscle in his body relaxed at once, and Sweden practically melted into the chair, feeling overwhelmed, happy, and anxious. Did this mean what he thought it did? He really hoped it meant what he thought it did. Morning couldn't come soon enough.

-o-

Finland returned home in the early, pre-dawn, his heart doing summersaults and flip-flops from down in his toes to up in his throat. He unhitched the reindeer and let them go about their lives, as he did every year. The jingling of the bells on the harnesses had to be a clue that he was back. He half expected Sweden to rush out of the house and tackle him into the snow, and was both relieved and disappointed when he didn't.

Feeling nervous now, Finland crept up to the house, trying to ignore the crunch of the snow under his boots as he shot glances into the window of the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of an eager Sweden waiting for him. His stomach dropped unpleasantly when he saw nothing but a small fire barely clinging to life in the hearth.

A trembling gloved hand reached for the door knob, twisting it open slowly and pulling the door open. Finland almost shrieked when he found Sweden standing in the doorway, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders and a strange, conflicted expression on his normally rigid face. "S-Su-san?" he croaked questionably. Why wait behind the door, of all places?

Without a single word of explanation, Sweden slowly opened his arms, inviting the small nation to hug – a gesture that both excited and shocked Finland. With a bright grin, Finland stepped inside, nearly jumping into Sweden's outstretched arms and pressing his cold face into the taller nation's chest. Closing the door with a foot, Sweden enfolded Finland with his arms and the blanket, rubbing his hands along the blond's back and upper arms to try and chase away the cold. "O-oh, Su-san," Finland almost cried – easily from either joy or wretchedness. "I'm sorry I didn't notice sooner – I… I thought that maybe I was the only one… and well…"

Sweden silenced him with a warm finger touched gently against his lips, beautifully set gems that were Sweden's eyes staring down kindly at him. "S-Su-san…? H-have you, maybe, thought of a better gift?" he asked, letting his lips brush against Sweden's finger as he spoke.

"Yea." Without further explanation, he moved his finger under Finland's chin, helping the smaller nation look up and dipped down, capturing Finland's cold lips with his warm ones.

The kiss was short and chaste, but when Sweden pulled away, Finland was breathless. He stared into Sweden's never ending blue eyes and smiled; a familiar wordless elation swelled between his ribs as he took Sweden's hands into his own. It felt like the holidays were starting all over again, and everything seemed bright and vibrant and so very new.

-o-

Unimportant Notes: I know it's not Christmas – or even the season, really. But, with how blasted cold this house is, it's easy to imagine it is. This wasn't beta-d, because I don't think that my beta should be bothered with it, really. Also, this is my first Hetalia story – feedback is much appreciated, because I feel like I'm sailing a little failboat with this. I hope you enjoyed it.