A/N: Another kink meme deanon. The prompt was: "Headcanon tells me that having everyone be terrified of him just by looking at his face could have left Sweden with some self-esteem issues. Sweden starts feeling insecure about himself, and Finland, who has fallen for Sweden by this point but not yet worked up the courage to confess, does everything he can to assure him that he has many wonderful qualities. He ends up lavishing praise on Sweden so heavily that it becomes obvious that Finland has more than just platonic feelings for him. I'd love for this to end with a confession and maybe some kisses."
Drawing wasn't an activity that Finland always had time for considering all his duties as a nation, but when he had time for it, it rarely failed to lift his spirits. Today he had finished his work and been allowed to come home a bit earlier than usual, which gave him time to indulge in some artistic pursuits.
Currently, he was doodling a little comic. He dipped his quill in some ink, chuckling quietly to himself as he thought of a clever line for the male lead to say in the next panel. He had just lowered his quill to the paper again when he heard the front door swing open, and then slam shut again, announcing the return of his housemate, Sweden.
Finland smiled as he put his quill back in the ink well so that he could go greet Sweden. The taller man was peeling off his coat, his head bowed, when Finland reached him.
"Welcome home, Sve," Finland said cheerfully. "You're back a little early today, aren't you? How was your meeting with France?"
Sweden, who still hadn't lifted his head as he worked on stepping out of his boots, halted his task of removing his outdoor gear at Finland's mention of his meeting, but said nothing. The smaller man waited patiently for Sweden's reply, thinking that perhaps he was just gathering his thoughts, but he remained silent. Finland frowned slightly as Sweden resumed the removal of his boot without having given any sort of reply. Sweden may not be a very talkative person by nature, but he rarely outright ignored Finland.
"'T was fine," he mumbled at last. He hesitated again, but continued to gaze at the boots he had just removed rather than meet Finland's gaze. "…'M gonna go work on Hana's doghouse s'more. Don't c'min t' my workshop while 'm busy…"
"Oh… Ok," Finland agreed, feeling a little surprised by the way Sweden was just brushing him off.
He couldn't think of a time when Sweden had ever told him that his company wasn't wanted; he normally seemed quite glad to have Finland's companionship and welcomed it openly. Not only that, but Sweden was very clearly avoiding his gaze, when usually it seemed as though his eyes were always on him. Something strange was going on.
"Is everything alright?"
Sweden's hand twitched, like he was going to reach for Finland, but quickly changed his mind. In the end, he nodded his still lowered head brusquely. "'M fine," he grunted unhelpfully. "J'st wanna get some work done."
Finland frowned after Sweden apprehensively as he retreated into his workshop and closed the door behind him. Even though he had been with Sweden for quite a long time, the man was still difficult for Finland to get a clear read on, but this time he was fairly certain that Sweden was upset. Behind that door, Sweden was hurting, but something, most likely his pride, was causing him to shut out someone who genuinely wanted to comfort him.
Finland bit his lip. He longed with all his heart to follow Sweden, to ask him what was wrong, to let him know that he was there for him if he needed help or someone to talk to, and to do what he could to soothe his sadness. Finland's cheeks colored as he pictured himself pulling Sweden close, running his fingers consolingly through his hair, and touching a soft kiss to his temple.
But no, he couldn't intrude. Sweden had asked for privacy, and Finland knew how it felt to just want a little space, so he would honor Sweden's request. He'd just give Sweden some time to collect himself, and then he'd knock on the door later under the ruse of asking him what he wanted for dinner, and see if Sweden was more willing to talk then.
Finland returned to the comic he'd been drawing, but though he lowered his quill to the paper and began to work again, his thoughts were focused on nothing but Sweden's troubles.
Finland waited an hour and a half, because he could not bear to wait any longer than that. During that time, he hadn't heard a peep from Sweden's workshop, no sounds of woodworking going on, nor of anything else. The silence made him a bit nervous. He took a deep breath to calm his nerves before tapping lightly on the door.
"Sve? Can… can I come in?" he called tentatively.
There was a brief pause before he received his answer, and for a moment, Finland feared that Sweden would ignore him.
"…Door's open," Sweden grunted at last.
Finland eased the door open and peered timidly inside. Sweden was sitting at his workbench, Hanatamago's half-constructed house sitting in front of him, but it didn't look as though he'd made any progress since the last time Finland had seen it. He looked up to meet Finland's gaze for the first time since he'd come home, and the pain in Sweden's eyes made Finland's heart stutter and clench.
"Um…I…I was just thinking of making dinner and wanted to know if there was anything in particular that you wanted to eat," Finland stammered.
"'M fine with anything y' make," Sweden mumbled.
"Ok…" Finland said slowly. He nibbled at his bottom lip compulsively as he shuffled all the way into the room, steeling himself to ask the question that was bursting on his tongue. "Are, uh… are you sure everything's ok? You've seemed really upset since you came home so…"
He trailed off awkwardly, waiting for a reply. Sweden lowered his eyes to the workbench's surface with a sigh. Sensing that Sweden might be in a mood where he could be persuaded, Finland moved a bit farther into the room and blustered on.
"I know you have a hard time talking about your feelings, but you might feel better if you tell me what's bothering you. I'm not sure if I'll be able to help, but… if it's for you, Sve, I… I'd like to try. If you don't mind, I mean…"
Sweden looked up into Finland's earnest face again, his cheeks tinged with pink. There was such an unusually vulnerable expression in Sweden's eyes that it took all Finland's willpower to refrain from wrapping his arms around him.
"Fin… 'm I r'pulsive?" he asked quietly.
Finland hadn't really had any particulars suspicions about what might have been bothering Sweden, but he certainly hadn't expected that question.
"Sve… of course not! Why would you ever think that?"
"Seems like… any time 've gotta meet with 'nother nation, no one c'n ever stand to look me in th' eye… they shake 'n' stutter th' whole time, 'n' won't shake m' hand… they 'lways seem s' glad when th' meetin's over... They must think I look like a monster…"
Finland wasn't sure how to reply. Until just a few years ago, he would've sympathized with everyone who felt this way. It wasn't until recently that he'd learned to look past Sweden's forbidding appearance and pay attention to how he actually treated the people around him. He had noticed, of course, that he was by no means the only one who was afraid of Sweden, but he'd always been so fixed on his own perceptions that he'd never stopped to consider how this kind of treatment must make Sweden feel. Finland felt terrible.
"You're not repulsive at all," Finland insisted quietly. "That's the last word I would ever use to describe you, and I mean that for your looks and your personality."
"Yer j'st sayin' that," Sweden muttered. "Even you couldn't look at me 'til recently without bein' terr'fied."
Finland shuffled his feet guiltily. "Ah, well… that's because… well, your eyes are really intense. I'd never seen eyes like yours before, so I was intimidated by them at first."
"'ntense…?" Sweden repeated slowly, looking genuinely surprised. "Are they?"
"But I only thought they were intimidating because I didn't know you yet!" Finland assured him. "The more time I spent with you, the more I started to realize that your eyes are actually very expressive. They sparkle when you're happy or excited, and get dark when you're sad or angry, and sometimes they look so warm and gentle… Actually, I… I've come to realize that they're very beautiful."
Sweden's cheeks warmed. "Yer… yer j'st tryin' t' make me feel better…" he said, trying not to sound too hopeful.
"I mean it," Finland said, his face just as red as Sweden's. "You're… you're very kind, strong, and loyal, not to mention fun, talented, intelligent, and thoughtful… I feel like if I hadn't decided to run away with you all those years ago and come to live with you, I might have missed out on getting to meet a really wonderful person, and… and that would have been a really big loss for me…"
Sweden's eyes were shining, and Finland could tell that his words had touched him deeply. He couldn't help smiling, even as embarrassed as he was to have revealed so many of his secret thoughts about Sweden to the man himself. Finland didn't regret telling him; the shyly pleased expression on Sweden's flushed face was completely worth the amount of courage he had needed to gather in order to express those feelings out loud.
"'F yer not careful 'bout how y' say that kinda stuff, I might get th' wrong idea," Sweden warned.
The vulnerable look in Sweden's eyes was back, begging Finland silently not to dash the hopes that his words had just built up. Finland realized that this was the moment he had been waiting for: the moment where he could make known the feelings that had slowly overcome him and at some point had bound his heart inextricably to Sweden's. He took a deep breath, gathering his courage to the sticking point once more.
"You're not wrong," he said softly.
Sweden looked completely thunderstruck, like all his dreams were coming true and he scarcely dared believe it for fear that he would wake up to find that it had all been a dream. In the past, Finland might have been terrified by the expression on Sweden's face, but now he was enamored with it. He extended his hand to Sweden, a wordless invitation for him to act on the feelings he knew the other man had harbored for him for the longest time.
Sweden rose numbly to his feet and circled around to the front of the workbench uncertainly, clearly still afraid that he was misunderstanding. Finland took his hand gently, still blushing even though he knew that Sweden felt the same way he did.
"Minä rakastan sinua," he breathed.
For a second, Finland thought Sweden looked like he was going to cry, but then Sweden pulled him close with shaking arms and Finland became unable to see his face anymore. He returned Sweden's embrace unhesitatingly.
"Been wantin' t' hear y' say that fer so long," he mumbled, his voice surprisingly steady.
"I'm sorry I took so long," Finland said. "It took me a while to sort out my feelings, but now I'm sure."
"C'n I kiss ya?" Sweden asked shyly.
Finland smiled. "I'd like that."
Sweden separated from him slightly, and Finland's breath caught in his chest as he witness the tenderness and joy in Sweden's eyes before he leaned in and captured his lips passionately in his own. Finland smiled into the kiss as he teased Sweden's lip into plump redness with his teeth. Sweden moaned quietly into Finland's mouth.
"Jag älskar dig, Fin," he murmured as they separated briefly before letting their lips meet again. "Jag älskar dig."