A/N: Yet moar fic based on fanart. http:/ fav. me/ d3hng7l (remove the spaces). I'm rather making a habit of this, aren't I? My first venture into the Hetalia fandom in terms of fanfic writing, and also a practice at writing fluff (which I kind of failed at, but hey, it's less angsty than my other things, and actually has romance in it, which I usually fail epically at).
Alfred sighed, hunching further under his umbrella and trying to press himself closer against the wall to avoid the driving, freezing rain that was currently making his life a misery. Well, one of the many things making his life a misery. The meeting today hadn't gone well – Germany had argued with everyone about everything, North Italy had spent the whole time whining, France had wound Austria up to the point that Hungary had had to forcibly separate the two, and Japan had, yet again, not deigned to involve himself at all. Even America had been fed up by the end of it. The only good point had been the fact that England had been unusually quiet, not breaking in with his usual derisive comments every time America spoke.
Arthur. Despite how pleasant it was not to have his self esteem jabbed whenever he opened his mouth, it felt... odd. Wrong. There was something going on with the older nation, and it made Alfred feel uneasy. He'd spent most of the meeting in some kind of trance, staring glassy-eyed out of the window, only really paying attention when someone mentioned his name. Alfred wondered if he was coming down with something – most of the nations had gotten over the colds induced by the recent recession, but it was possibly that England had suffered a relapse.
His train of thought was broken by an angry gust of wind that threatened to rip his umbrella out of his hands. He snarled, wrestling with it for a moment and wincing when a drop of rain managed to roll down the back of his neck and under his collar. "Blech," he muttered to himself, shaking his head. "Where is he?" Alfred was supposed to have been on his plane by now, on his way home back to America where it would be warm and dry, watching the rain through the plane windows and silently laughing at those unfortunate enough to be stuck out in it.
Instead, he hunched under an umbrella and a slightly overhanging roof, outside the airport terminal, waiting for a driver who had promised that he'd be 'just five minutes' over half an hour ago. He let out a low growl of frustration at unpunctuality in general, and glowered up at the grey, darkening sky as if all the world's ills were its personal fault. Grey skies always reminded him of England, of Arthur, triggering a confused mix of emotions in him, which he didn't like. Feeling out of control or confused was not something he enjoyed, and he avoided it wherever possible.
He was just about to call his driver again and complain for a bit, and then possibly order a taxi, when a movement in the rain caught his eye, a small shadow shuffling through the downward blur. "Hello?" Alfred called hesitantly, squinting to try and see through the water bucketing down. The shape shifted again, visible only as a darker patch of grey, but seeming to be coming closer. "Hey, you okay? I don't think you should be wandering around in weather like this. Come over here, I've got an umbrella!" He ginned, still trying to make out the person.
When the figure finally got close enough to be identified, Alfred gaped, eyes wide. What's Arthur doing wandering around in the rain? I mean, I know he likes bad weather and everything, but it's freezing! Isn't he cold?"England?"
Arthur looked up, blinking rain out of his emerald eyes. He looked dazed, confused. If his eyes had been glassy at the meeting they were dull, now, blank and empty. He seemed to gaze at Alfred without really seeing him properly, swaying on the spot slightly and shivering violently. Water dripped off the end of his nose and gathered in gleaming droplets on the end of his eyelashes and hair, which was plastered to his forehead. He blinked, once, and seemed to register Alfred's presence, giving him a small, dead smile.
"Iggy, what the hell!" Alfred snapped, unable to keep the confusion and irritation out of his voice. Just when he'd thought he had enough problems with trying to get transport, now a soaking wet Arthur had turned up. He scowled, looking down at the smaller nation.
Arthur took a half-step backwards at his tone, eyes widening in a vague, half-processed fear. His alarm lasted for a second before the expression fell off his face and was replaced with the hollow sorrow that had been there before. "I... I can't... keep letting this happen..." His voice was soft, hoarse, and Alfred had to strain to hear it.
Some of his irritation faded, replaced with a growing unease and worry. Alfred took a step closer and looked down at his friend, properly looked. His lips were an unhealthy blue-purple colour, one that was echoed under his eyes, on the tip of his nose and brushed across his cheekbones. He raised a hand to Arthur's cheek, gently brushing the skin, before jerking his hand away in alarm. Arthur flinched, but the motion was almost unnoticeable with his shivering.
"Wha- Iggy, you're freezing!" yelped America, pulling the other nation under the umbrella, clasping ice-cold fingers in his own, warmer hand, peering down his nose in worry at Arthur, who was now close enough that the tips of their noses were almost touching. He could feel the cold radiating off of him, feel water soaking through the front of his shirt from Arthur's drenched jacket.
"I... can't keep... not telling you..." He coughed, ducking his head, forehead touching Alfred's chest lightly for a second. He sounded exhausted and ill, confused, almost... scared. A quiet, nervous determination lurked behind his half-lidded eyes.
Alfred felt some of his anger return at Arthur's blatant disregard for his health. What the hell is he playing at? He's probably going to get the flu or something. "Telling me?" snarled Alfred, "Tell me what? What could be so damn fucking important that you had to-"
"I..." There was a sigh, tired and vulnerable and resigned as he tried to gather his thoughts and courage.
"-run here all the way from the meeting to the airport-" continued Alfred, not noticing Arthur's inner turmoil in the face of his own irritation. Not that he was annoyed with Arthur, not really, but he'd had a horrible day and his anger needed some kind of outlet, and the green-eyed nation always seemed to bring out the worst in him.
"... I love you..."
"-in the fucking freezing cold! ... Wait what...?" Alfred blinked, eyes widening and mouth opening in non-comprehension and surprise. I must have misheard. No way did he just say- It couldn't- But-
"I had to tell you... I love you..." whispered Arthur, ignoring the rant, reaching up to rest cold fingers against the side of Alfred's neck, running a thumb over the thrumming pulse there. The other hand reached up to rest on his shoulder, curling into the warm, soft leather there. He pushed himself up onto tiptoes, stretching up to press a cold, chaste kiss to the corner of Alfred's open mouth. He smiled sadly, blinking rain and tears out of his eyes (hoping desperately Alfred couldn't tell the difference between the two), and then turned and walked away; he was too proud to run.
Alfred gaped silently for a minute, before his brain processed the shock and started working again. "Eh, Iggy? W-wait Iggy! Iggy? ENGLAND!" He dropped his umbrella, running after Arthur, catching his shoulder. Arthur stilled at the touch, whole body tensing up with apprehension. Alfred hesitated, and then spun his around, hands fisting into the front of his jacket and pulling him forward, pressing his lips to Arthur's in a frantic, apologetic kiss, trying to compress over two hundred years' worth of confused emotions into one, simple action.
He forgot about rain, forgot the missing car, forgot the cold. His mind was full of more immediate, demanding sensory input – the feel of Arthur's damp, blond hair under his fingers, the way the surprise in his eyes faded slowly to a delicious, glowing happiness, and the smell of rain and fields that seemed to follow Arthur. He pulled him closer, scared to let go in case the moment suddenly disappeared, turned out to have never happened.
And then, suddenly, the feel of cold fingers curled around the back of his neck vanished, green eyes were obscured by fluttering eyelids, and the nation in his arms became a dead weight. Arthur slumped forward against Alfred, shaking more violently than before, breath coming in jerky gasps. Alfred yelped, grabbing his under his arms and trying to pull him up. He failed, and they both fell to the floor, landing in the water polling there.
"Iggy!" he whispered desperately, shaking his shoulders. "Iggy, wake up! Damnit, I won't let you- Taxi! Taxi!" He waved an arm madly until the cab pulled over, the driver peering out of the rain-covered windows to try and discern who had flagged him over.
Alfred scooped Arthur's limp form up in his arms, carefully carrying him over to the taxi and setting him gently down in the back seat, holding him in a position that approximated sitting before strapping his seatbelt on and climbing in after him. The driver scowled at the pair of them as they dripped rainwater onto his car, but said nothing. America ignored the glare and gave him directions to the meeting place, hoping that there'd be some spare rooms there. He knew Italy had been planning to stay there overnight, so he assumed there had to be somewhere to sleep.
And even if there isn't, it's better than staying out there in the rain and the cold. he glanced at Arthur, who had curled up and slid sideways until he was leaning against Alfred, face buried in his shoulder, legs pulled up to his chest. Despite his shaking, and the warmth inside the car, he was still almost painfully cold to the touch.
Wishing he'd paid more attention when he'd been on that first aid course he'd been forced to take, Alfred wracked his brains to try and remember what to do to stop hypothermia from setting in – if it hadn't already. Keep them warm... that means getting them dry, out of wet clothes. Heat them up slowly, preferably with a warm bath or body heat, but cool the extremities slowly. Keep them moving... well, that last one's out for sure. I can try the others, though. Alfred caught Arthur's fingers with his own, uncurling them carefully and rubbing them between his palms, trying to warm them up. Arthur made a small noise, barely more than a sighed breath, and pressed himself slightly closer to Alfred, some of the tension draining from his still form.
It seemed to take an age for them to reach the meeting place. Arthur still hadn't stopped shivering (Alfred wasn't entirely sure whether that was a good or bad thing), but his fingers and lips seemed a little less blue. He was curled tightly up against Alfred, instinctively seeking warmth, eyelids fluttering as his eyes moved restlessly beneath them.
Alfred paid the driver, who scowled at him again and accepted the money gracelessly, and then scooped Arthur up in his arms, bridal-style. Arthur made a soft, pained noise, twisting his head towards Alfred's chest, trying to curl up again and failing.
"Shh," murmured Alfred softly, half-smiling. "Nearly there." He paused awkwardly at the door, wondering how on earth to get in, and eventually ended up using a rather complicated and uncomfortable manoeuvre that involved trying to get the key out of his pocket, into the keyhole and opening the door without dropping Iggy or jostling him too much. He eventually succeeded, pushing the door open, grabbing his key, walking inside and kicking the door shut behind him.
He stood for a moment, dripping onto the hall's wooden floor, staring blankly at the doors that lined it and wondering where on earth to start looking for a bedroom, or a bathroom, or anywhere that he could try and warm Arthur up. He probably would have stood there longer, Arthur shaking in his arms, one hand clawing weakly at his chest with numb fingers, if Italy hadn't turned up.
The smaller nation burst out of one of the doors, humming happily to himself and carrying a plate of something. He turned to head down the hall, caught sight of America out of the corner of his eye, whirled around in alarm, and nearly dropped the plate. "Ah, it's only you, America. I thought you were leaving this evening?" he said, smiling, after he'd recovered himself slightly. Then his eyes dropped to the shivering bundle he was cradling to his chest, and widened. "Oh no! England! What- what happened to him?" He looked up at Alfred, worry etched all over his face. "I told him not to go out in the rain, but he said that he had a lift to the airport, and I-"
"Italy," interrupted Alfred gently, smiling slightly at the air of frantic urgency the usually cheerful nation was giving off, "could you possibly show me where a bedroom is that I can put Arthur? And possibly where I can find extra blankets, and some spare towels?"
"Of course! This way." He gave America a pensive glance, noting the fact that he'd used England's human name and storing the information away for consideration at a later date.
Italy set off purposefully down the corridor at a slightly mad pace that Alfred couldn't quite keep up with whilst trying to balance Arthur in his arms, and had to wait for the larger nation several times at corners. Eventually he pushed open a door, showing a small-ish room with a single bed, wardrobe, chair and door. "The bathroom's in there," said Italy, pointing, and smiled at America. "I'll go and get some extra towels and blankets for you now, if you want?"
"That'd be great, thanks," said Alfred, with a grateful smile. Italy bounced off again, leaving his plate of what, on closer inspection, appeared to be pasta standing on the room's window ledge. Alfred glanced at it and shook his head in amusement.
He carefully deposited Arthur on the bed, ignoring the small whimper it elicited, and attempted to prise his fingers off from where they'd hooked on to the sleeve of his jacket. It turned out to be a surprisingly difficult task – Arthur seemed to unconsciously gravitate towards him, though whether because he was seeking warmth or familiarity Alfred wasn't sure.
"Shh, shh, it's okay," he murmured, smoothing Arthur's damp hair off of his face, which was tight with worry, brows lowered in a frown as he continued to shiver, eyes rolling under his eyelids. "I've got ya, right? Stay with me, Iggy, it'll warm up in a bit." Eventually managing to get Arthur to let go of him, Alfred removed his wet jacket, shirt and, after a moment's hesitation, his trousers. He hung them over a radiator in the corner of the room, along with his own jacket. Thankfully, his shirt and trousers weren't quite as badly soaked as Arthur's had been, as he'd been under an umbrella for most of the time in the rain.
Out of his wet clothes, carefully tucked under a duvet, Arthur's violent shivering slowed slightly, and his face relaxed into a more peaceful expression. Alfred watched him shift slightly, the fingers clutching at the covers no longer blue at the tips. He pressed a warm hand against Arthur's still-cold cheek, smiling at the way the other nation turned towards his touch, pressing his face into the palm of Alfred's hand.
There was small knock at the door, and Alfred jerked his hand away guiltily, turning to open it. Italy stood there, holding a small pile of towels and blankets, as promised. He seemed to be trying to peer past Alfred into the room, to catch a glimpse of Arthur. "Is he going to be okay?" he asked anxiously, handing the towels over. "He looked so cold... It's not right. Shouldn't he be in hospital?"
Alfred took the pile, and shook his head firmly. "Nope. He seems a bit better now, and I'm sure once he's woken up, he'll be fine. Maybe a bit of a cold or something, but a hospital wouldn't be able to solve that. Besides, I don't want him out of my sight."
"No, no, I bet you don't!" There was something in the Italian's tone of voice which was slightly too knowing and conspiratorial for comfort.
He sighed, shaking his head. "Thank you, Italy. Good night," he said, firmly, and pushed the door shut with one toe so he wouldn't have to see that knowing, gleeful smile any more. As much as he liked Italy, he was difficult to get along with – one of the reasons for that being he didn't know the meaning of the words 'privacy', 'secret' or 'subtle'.
Returning to the side of the bed, he pulled back the duvet (now slightly damp from previously being in contact with Arthur's clothes, and then with the damp nation himself) and slid a blanket underneath Arthur's sleeping form, before draping one over the top of him and replacing the duvet. Arthur sighed slightly, eyelids fluttering. His face relaxed slightly into a more peaceful expression.
Alfred smiled, taking a towel and attempting to dry off the sopping mess that was Arthur's hair. He did a passable job, although it left the other nation's hair looking he'd been dragged through a bush repeatedly. He ran his fingers through it absently, almost unconsciously, gently teasing out the tangles. Arthur made a soft noise of happiness, shifting slightly and trying to press his face into the palm of Alfred's hand.
"See?" murmured Alfred, quietly, not wanting to wake the sleeping nation. "I am the hero – saving the world from pneumonia, one England at a time." Arthur made a soft snorting noise that could have been interpreted as one of amusement, and shifted closer to Alfred.
Alfred sighed, running his hand through the other nation's blonde hair one last time, and then stood up. He had intended to scoop up a blanket and settle himself in the chair for the night, but he stopped at the quiet, disappointed whimper that Arthur made. He twisted onto his side, eyelids fluttering slightly, eventually parting to reveal a tiny strip of green iris. "Dun'go," he mumbled sleepily, almost inaudibly, stretching one arm out until it hung off the edge of the bed. "Stay." And then his eyes slid shut again, face falling sideways into the pillow.
Alfred blinked in surprise before smiling, gently taking Arthur's hand in his own and sitting back down on the edge of the bed. "Well, if you insist," he whispered, twisting until he was lying next to Arthur on top of the duvet, facing him, noses almost touching. Alfred could feel the other nation's slow, steady breath brushing against his throat, feel the coldness of his hands where they touched him – one linked with his own, one draped almost possessively over his ribs.
"Night night," he murmured, gently pressing a kiss to the tip of Arthur's nose, causing Arthur to make small huffing noise, curling in closer to him. "Sleep well, my dear. I… I love you too."
((Outside the door, Italy made a small, hastily smothered squeaking noise of delight and looked at the picture he'd just taken on his phone – Alfred and Arthur, curled up together on the bed, arms wrapped around one another. I knew it! I knew they were together, I knew it, I told Ludwig and he wouldn't listen! Now I've got proof – he won't be able to argue with this!. He pulled up Ludwig's number and pressed 'forward', smiling happily.)) ...And then you just know that Prussia's going to be the one to pick up Germany's phone and see that picutre, and then he's going to forward it to everyone, and then America and England will be very confused as to how everyone knows (and Italy will be wonderfully oblivious of what he's started, as per usual).
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